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NOAA Adds Five Major Hurricanes to 2005 Atlantic Forecast

MIAMI, Florida, August 4, 2005 (ENS) - Residents of the East coast and Gulf coasts of the United States, still recovering from the effects of last year's four record breaking hurricanes, are in for another stormy season. The National Hurricane Center has increased the number of storms predicted in its 2005 Atlantic hurricane season outlook.

Officials with the specialized hurricane service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Tuesday an additional 11 to 14 tropical storms are expected from August through November. Of these seven to nine will become hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes, forecasters warn.

"Although we have already seen a record setting seven tropical storms during June and July, much of the season’s activity is still to come," said Gerry Bell, lead meteorologist on NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Seasonal Outlook.

In total, this season is likely to yield 18 to 21 tropical storms, with nine to 11 becoming hurricanes, including five to seven major hurricanes.

hurricane

The most recent Atlantic hurricane was Emily, shown here on July 21. When it formed on July 11, Emily became the earliest fifth named storm on record. (NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response team)
“The tropics are only going to get busier as we enter the peak of the season,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, USAF (Ret.), director of the NOAA National Weather Service. “This may well be one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, and will be the ninth above normal Atlantic hurricane season in the last 11 years.”

The predicted high levels of activity during the remainder of the season were forecast in NOAA’s pre-season outlook last spring. They are comparable to those seen during August to October of the very active 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Atmospheric and oceanic conditions that favor an active hurricane season are now occurring, as NOAA predicted in the pre-season outlook. “Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures and low wind shear are among the culprits behind these stronger and more numerous storms,” Bell said.

This set of ocean and atmosphere conditions has been known to produce increased tropical storm activity in 20 to 30 year cycles, so NOAA expects a continuation of above-normal hurricane seasons for another decade or even longer.

NOAA’s research shows that this reoccurring cycle is the dominant climate factor that controls Atlantic hurricane activity, and says "longer-term climate change appears to be a minor factor."

Similar conditions also produced very active Atlantic hurricane seasons during the 1950s and 1960s.

In contrast, the opposite phase of this signal during 1970-1994 resulted in only three above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons in the entire 25 year period.

On the other side of the United States, in the eastern Pacific Ocean the same conditions that have contributed to increased Atlantic activity since 1995 have produced "a marked decrease in hurricanes," NOAA said.

hurricane

Hurricane Dennis destroyed roads, electricity and piled sand across Navarre Beach, Florida, July 18, 2005. (Photo by Leif Skoogfors courtesy FEMA)
As a result of the increased number of hurricanes predicted, officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are urging everyone in a hurricane-prone area to take initiative now to prepare for the next hurricane.

FEMA says, "Make a plan so you know what you and your family will do if you need to evacuate. Every home should also have a disaster supply kit. It is also vital to stay informed during any disaster. Listen to the radio or TV newscasts before and during an evacuation, and stay connected to any updates on the weather conditions in your area."

"It is becoming more difficult to evacuate people from densely populated areas," the emergency agency warns. "Roads are easily overcrowded, particularly during summer tourist season. The problem is compounded by the complacency of people who do not understand the awesome power of severe storms. Complacency and delayed action could result in needless loss of life and damage to property and could endanger the lives of first responders."

The four Florida hurricanes in 2004 - Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne - are the largest disaster in FEMA history, the agency says. More than 1.2 million Floridians applied for federal and state assistance through FEMA’s registration system, setting an agency record.

Florida has received more than $5.5 billion in federal disaster assistance for damages done by those four hurricanes, more than the average federal disaster assistance in a year nationwide, FEMA says.

Conditions that steer hurricanes toward land are well known, but are difficult to predict on seasonal time scales and are often related to daily weather patterns. Still, historical records indicate that an average of two to three additional hurricanes could strike the United States between August and November.

“Knowing precisely where a hurricane will strike and at what intensity cannot be determined even a few days in advance,” said Max Mayfield, director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center.

Martin

Rebecca Martin returns to her destroyed home to meet with insurance inspectors following Hurricane Dennis. Shell Point, Florida. July 18, 2005. (Photo by Andrea Booher courtesy FEMA)
“Residents and government agencies of coastal and near-coastal regions should embrace hurricane preparedness efforts and should be ready well before a tropical storm or hurricane watch is posted,” Mayfield advised.

The U.S. Department of Transportation today launched a new website containing information to help ensure safe and secure transportation for persons with disabilities in the event of a disaster or emergency.

The new site includes advice on emergency preparedness, transportation accessibility, and evacuation methods for certain modes of transportation, such as rail and transit systems. Disabled individuals can learn how to react in situations ranging from evacuations of mass transit systems to being trapped in a car during a blizzard or hurricane.

The site also includes links to Department of Homeland Security web pages that provide information on preparing for specific emergencies, including natural disasters such as severe weather, fire and earthquakes, as well as disasters such as spills of hazardous materials.

The site also provides information for transportation providers on how to respond during an emergency to the unique needs of people with disabilities.

The new site was developed in response to an executive order issued by President Bush on July 22, 2004, which directed federal agencies to support safety and security for individuals with disabilities during natural and man-made disasters.

The web address for the new site is http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/asp/emergencyprep.asp

An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, produces 10 named storms in which six become hurricanes, including two major hurricanes with winds of at least 111 mph.

The most active hurricane season was in 1933 with 21 storms, followed by 1995 with 19 storms.

The most hurricanes in a season was 12 in 1969, and the highest number of major hurricanes was eight in 1950.

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane outlook is a joint product of scientists at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, Hurricane Research Division and National Hurricane Center. NOAA meteorologists use a suite of sophisticated numerical models and high-tech tools to forecast tropical storms and hurricanes.

In making their predictions, the scientists rely on information gathered by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force Reserve personnel who fly directly into storms in hurricane hunter aircraft; NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense satellites; NOAA data buoys, weather radars and partners among the international meteorological services.

For comprehensive hurricane preparation advice, visit FEMA at: http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18210



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