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Date of Issue: June 04, 2008

NOAA: near normal/above normal hurricane season

Climate conditions point to a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this year, according to the Climate Prediction Center operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA announced the forecast in late May in advance of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1.

“Living in a coastal state means having a plan for each and every hurricane season. Review or complete emergency plans now — before a storm threatens,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, NOAA’s administrator. “Planning and preparation is the key to storm survival and recovery.”

The Climate Prediction Center outlook calls for considerable activity this season, with a 65 percent probability of an above-normal season and a 25 percent probability of a near-normal season.

The climate patterns expected during this year’s hurricane season have in past seasons produced a wide range of activity and have been associated with both near-normal and above-normal seasons.

For 2008, the outlook indicates a 60 to 70 percent chance of 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

An average season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes for which two reach major status, according to NOAA.

“The outlook is a general guide to the overall seasonal hurricane activity,” Lautenbacher said. “It does not predict whether, where or when any of these storms may hit. That is the job of the National Hurricane Center after a storm forms.”

Bill Read, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, said, “Our forecasters are ready to track any tropical cyclone, from a depression to a hurricane, that forms in the Atlantic Basin. We urge coastal residents to have a hurricane plan in place before the season begins and NHC will continue to provide the best possible forecast to the public.”

When a storm forms in the tropics — and even before that stage — NOAA forecasters at the Miami-based National Hurricane Center are employing a network of satellites, land- and ocean-based sensors and aircraft reconnaissance missions to monitor the situation. The data supplies the information for computer modeling and human interpretation that serves as the basis for the hurricane center’s track and intensity forecasts that extend out five days in advance.

The science behind the outlook is rooted in the analysis and prediction of current and future global climate patterns as compared to previous seasons with similar conditions.

“The main factors influencing this year’s seasonal outlook are the continuing multi-decadal signal and the anticipated lingering effects of La Niña,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “One of the expected oceanic conditions is a continuation since 1995 of warmer-than-normal temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic.”

“Americans in hurricane-prone states must get serious and be prepared. Government — even with the federal, tribal, state and local governments working perfectly in sync — is not the entire answer. Everyone is part of the emergency management process,” said FEMA administrator R. David Paulison. “We must continue to develop a culture of preparedness in America in which every American takes personal responsibility for his or her own emergency preparedness.”

NOAA’s Atlantic hurricane season outlook will be updated on Aug. 7, just prior to what is historically the peak period for hurricane activity.

Tropical systems acquire a name — the first of which was Arthur this year — upon reaching tropical storm strength with sustained winds of at least 39 mph. Tropical storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph, and become major hurricanes when winds reach 111 mph.