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NOAA raises 2011 Atlantic hurricane season forecast


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NOAA raises 2011 Atlantic hurricane season forecast

2011-08-04 22:35:05 GMT+7 (ICT)

MIAMI (BNO NEWS) -- NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC), a division of the U.S. National Weather Service, on Thursday said it expects 14 to 19 named storms during the current Atlantic hurricane season, a revision from 12 to 18 storms forecast in May.

Figures released by CPC in May called for an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic this year with 12 to 18 named storms, six to ten becoming hurricanes and three to six expected to become a major hurricane (category 3 or higher).

But an update released on Thursday slightly changed those figures, calling for 14 to 19 named storms - seven to ten of them becoming hurricanes - and only three to five of them becoming major hurricanes.

"The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October," said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at CPC. "Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we've seen so far this season."

Key climate factors predicted in May continue to support an active season, CPC said. These include: the tropical multi-decadal signal, which since 1995 has brought favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions, leading to more active seasons; exceptionally warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures (the third warmest on record); and the possible redevelopment of La Niña. Reduced vertical wind shear and lower air pressure across the tropical Atlantic also favor an active season.

Based on these conditions and on climate model forecasts, CPC said the confidence for an above-normal season has increased from 65 percent in May to 85 percent currently. If the season continues as expected, CPC said, 2011 would be the twelfth above-normal season since 1995.

The Atlantic basin has already produced five tropical storms this season: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don and Emily, which is still active and could pose a threat to the United States after leaving the Caribbean.

CPC does not make seasonal hurricane landfall predictions, because hurricane landfalls are largely determined by the weather patterns in place as the hurricane approaches, which are only predictable when the storm is within several days of making landfall. The last hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Ike in 2008, killing nearly 200 people of which more than 100 were in the United States.

"It is still early in this hurricane season and we know it can take only one storm to devastate communities and families," said FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino. "Many disasters come without warning, but that's not the case with hurricanes. This is hurricane season, if you haven't already, now is the time to take a few simple steps to get you and your family prepared. Anyone can visit www.ready.gov to learn more."

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 11 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes and two becoming major hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with peak activity in September.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-04

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