August 10, 2012 in Nation/World

Forecasters predict 3 to 6 more hurricanes

‘Above-normal season’ expected
Ken Kaye Sun Sentinel McClatchy-Tribune
 

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Government forecasters on Thursday called for the remainder of the storm season to see six to 11 named storms, including three to six hurricanes with two to three of those being major.

Overall, for the entire season, they expect 12 to 17 named storms, including five to eight hurricanes, with two to three of those being major.

That would amount to a slightly busier than normal season, which sees 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, three major.

“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season because storm conducive wind patterns and warmer than normal sea surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He added that the Atlantic basin remains in an era of hurricane intensity, making it prone to produce an above-average number of hurricanes and major hurricanes each year.

In late May, NOAA predicted a near normal season with nine to 15 named storms, including four to eight hurricanes, with one to three of those being major, with sustained winds greater than 110 mph.

“We have a long way to go until the end of the season, and we shouldn’t let our guard down,” said Laura Furgione, acting director of the National Weather Service.

So far, six named storms have emerged, including two hurricanes. The season saw the fastest start in history when four named storms formed before July 1.

Because of those four systems, most weather teams increased their overall seasonal outlooks, even though they think the heart of the season should be normal or slightly slower than normal.

They say El Nino, the atmospheric force that suppresses tropical storm formation, might develop in time to hamper some systems.

Bell said El Nino “strengthens the vertical wind shear over the Atlantic, which suppresses storm development. However, we don’t expect El Nino’s influence until later in the season.”

Earlier this month, Phil Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University updated their season outlook, predicting 14 named storms, including six hurricanes, two major.

Bell noted that NOAA’s updated outlook is intended to coincide with the peak of the hurricane season and to give residents an idea of what to expect.

“This is the period when by far most hurricanes and major hurricanes occur,” he said.

He noted that NOAA makes no attempt to say where hurricanes might strike.

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