Experts Predict Above Normal 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season

WASHINGTON – Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center are projecting a 75 percent chance that the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be above normal this year – showing the ongoing active hurricane era remains strong. With the start of the hurricane season upon us, NOAA recommends those in hurricane-prone regions to begin their preparation plans.

“For the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA scientists predict 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. An average Atlantic hurricane season brings 11 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.

Climate patterns responsible for the expected above normal 2007 hurricane activity continue to be the ongoing multi-decadal signal (the set of ocean and atmospheric conditions that spawn increased Atlantic hurricane activity), warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the El Niño/La Niña cycle.

Last year, seasonal hurricane predictions proved to be too high when an unexpected El Niño rapidly developed and created a hostile environment for Atlantic storms to form and strengthen. When storms did develop, steering currents kept most of them over the open water and away from land.

“There is some uncertainty this year as to whether or not La Niña will form, and if it does how strong it will be,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. “The Climate Prediction Center is indicating that La Niña could form in the next one to three months. If La Niña develops, storm activity will likely be in the upper end of the predicted range, or perhaps even higher depending on how strong La Niña becomes. Even if La Niña does not develop, the conditions associated with the ongoing active hurricane era still favor an above-normal season.”

Bell also noted that pre-season storms, such as Subtropical Storm Andrea in early May, are not an indicator of the hurricane season ahead. “With or without Andrea, NOAA’s forecast is for an above normal season.”

“With expectations for an active season, it is critically important that people who live in East and Gulf coastal areas as well as the Caribbean be prepared,” said Bill Proenza, NOAA National Hurricane Center director. “Now is the time to update your hurricane plan, not when the storm is bearing down on you.”

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with peak activity occurring August through October. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center will issue an updated seasonal forecast in August just prior to the historical peak of the season.

Additional information can be found online at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov.

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