Coastal residents from Texas to Maine could face damage from as many five major hurricanes during what forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are calling an above-normal 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.
"NOAA's prediction for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is for 12 to15 tropical storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator in a press release. "Forecaster confidence that this will be an active hurricane season is very high."
Playing the percentages, NOAA's predictions hold a 70% chance of an above-normal hurricane season, a 20% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. An above-normal hurricane season is defined as one during which six to 12 hurricanes result in from two to eight major storms, with maximum sustained winds exceeding 110 mph.
The official Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends November 30. Since 1995, all but two Atlantic hurricane seasons have resulted in an above-normal number of storms. Atlantic hurricanes threaten U.S. land areas from the southern tip of Texas to coastal New England.
"Impacts from hurricanes, tropical storms and their remnants do not stop at the coast," states retired Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service. "As we kick off National Hurricane Preparedness Week and look at another highly active season, preparation plans should consider that these storms carry severe weather, such as tornadoes and flooding, while moving inland."
Although it's too soon to predict where and when a storm may hit land, NOAA still cautions the public to be prepared.
"Last year's hurricane season provided a reminder that planning and preparation for a hurricane do make a difference. Residents in hurricane vulnerable areas who had a plan, and took individual responsibility for acting on those plans, faired far better than those who did not," said Max Mayfield, director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center.
An update to the Atlantic hurricane outlook will be issued in early August just prior to the season's historical peak from late August through October.
In contrast to the Atlantic, a below-normal hurricane season is expected in the Eastern and Central Pacific. NOAA's outlook for the Eastern Pacific hurricane season, also released today, calls for 11-15 tropical storms, with six to eight becoming hurricanes of which two to four may become major hurricanes. Two or three tropical cyclones are projected for the Central Pacific.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOTE: One of the most devastating disasters spawned by hurricanes is the flooding from rain and storm surge as the systems hit the coast. In low-lying areas, damage from flooding can extend hundreds of miles inland. Do you need National Flood Insurance?