, Port Arthur, Texas

Breaking news

May 24, 2013

Be prepared; active hurricane season predicted

— It’s time to get prepared — an active hurricane season is being predicted.

The prediction released on Thursday calls for 13 to 20 named Atlantic storms, seven to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and three to six that become major hurricanes.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins June 1 and Jefferson County Emergency Management Coordinator Greg Fountain is hoping the predictions will spur conversation and preparedness.

“What I like about the predictions is that people begin to talk about it and when they talk about it they are more likely to talk about insurance and plans and all that goes into being prepared for hurricane season,” Fountain said.

Fountain said hurricanes and hurricane season are unpredictable so being prepared is the best choice.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there is a 70 percent chance that this year will be more active than an average hurricane season, according to the Associated Press.

 “This is your warning,” acting NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said regarding those who live in hurricane prone areas along the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico coasts.

A normal hurricane season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major storms with winds over 110 mph.

Last year was the third-busiest on record with 19 named storms. Ten became hurricanes and were two major storms. That included Sandy, which caused $50 billion in damage even though it lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey.

All the factors that go into hurricane forecasts are pointing to an active season, or extremely active one, lead forecaster Gerry Bell of the Climate Prediction Center, said.

Those factors include: warmer than average ocean waters that provide fuel for storms, a multi-decade pattern of increased hurricane activity, the lack of an El Nino warming of the central Pacific Ocean, and an active pattern of storm systems coming off west Africa.

The Atlantic hurricane season goes through about 25 to 40 year cycles of high activity and low activity. The high activity period started around 1995, Sullivan said.

The forecasts don’t include where storms might land, if any place. Despite the formation of more hurricanes recently, the last time a major hurricane made landfall in the United States was Wilma in 2005. That seven-year stretch is the longest on record.

The six-month season starts June 1. Forecasters name tropical storms when their top winds reach 39 mph; hurricanes have maximum winds of at least 74 mph.

This year’s names: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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