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Monday, May 23, 2005

Conditions Right for Another Harsh Hurricane Season

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that the Atlantic hurricane season for 2005 will be just as bad if not worse than last year's.

"NOAA's prediction for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is for 12 to 15 tropical storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes," said NOAA administrator and Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher (Ret.) "Forecaster confidence that this will be an active hurricane season is very high."

If the predictions turn out to be accurate, it will continue a pattern of above-normal hurricane activity that began in 1995. Last year saw 15 tropical storms in the Atlantic (normal = 10), 9 hurricanes (normal = 6) and 6 major hurricanes (normal = 2).

NOAA expresses such confidence in its forecasts because all the conditions are right for an active season in the Atlantic. Warmer waters, low surface pressure, a favorable easterly jet stream from Africa, weaker easterly trade winds and upper-level easterlies that expand westward all combine to encourage the formation and development of severe storms.

By contrast, the NOAA is predicting a below-active hurricane season for the Pacific. The official hurricane season lasts from June 1 through Nov. 30 in the Atlantic, and from May 15 through Nov. 30 in the Pacific.