The reports are in and this year could be a doozy. Every year, hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean begins on June 1 and ends on November 30 with the season peaking in mid to late September, according to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean affects the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of Central America. Last year, 2009, saw 11 named storms in the Atlantic, three of which were hurricanes and none of which were major (category 3, 4 or 5) hurricanes. Predictions for the 2010 season project a more intense season, however. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be “active to extremely active.”
NOAA says, “[We are] projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:
14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph).”
Contributing factors include upper atmospheric winds conducive for storms and warm Atlantic Ocean water. The main uncertainty is La Niña, which may or may not develop in the Pacific this summer. According to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, if La Niña develops between August and October, the “enhanced upper-level easterly winds [would] lead to reduced vertical wind shear and increased hurricane activity across the tropical North Atlantic.”
At a recent press conference, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center, Gerry Bell, PhD, said, “At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Niña to develop.”
NOAA also reports that we are in the midst of a high-activity era. “Since 1995, the tropical multi-decadal signal has brought favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions in sync, leading to more active hurricane seasons. Eight of the last 15 seasons rank in the top ten for the most named storms with 2005 in first place with 28 named storms.” However, since 2005, hurricane seasons have not been as active as forecasted.
The forecast from noted meteorologists of Colorado State University Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray corroborate NOAA’s predictions. Their Extended Range Forecast of Altantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and Landfall Strike Probability released on June 2, 2010, says, “We foresee a very active hurricane season in 2010. We have increased our forecast from early April, due to a combination of a transition from El Niño to currently observed neutral conditions and the continuation of unusually warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures. We anticipate a well above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall. All factors are lining up for a very active 2010 hurricane season.”
According to the latest forecast, Klotzbach and Gray predict 18 named storms, 90 named storm days, 10 hurricanes, 40 hurricane days, five major hurricanes and 13 major hurricane days. Also, they predict a 76 percent probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the entire U.S. coastline, a 51 percent probability of a major hurricane hitting the Florida Peninsula and a 50 percent probability of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast of Florida, including the Panhandle west to Brownsville.
Klotzbach and Gray predict a 65 percent probability of at least one major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean.
The 2010 Pacific Hurricane Season kicked-off early this year as Tropical Storm Agatha blew across Central America with vengeance, according to the Guardian.co.uk. Agatha claimed over 100 lives in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The list of 2010 Atlantic Hurricane names is as follows: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie and Walter.
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