More severe hurricanes predicted this year

We are on the verge of another Atlantic hurricane season, and forecasters are predicting more devastating storms this year, according to Environment News Service.

Forecasters at Colorado State University are calling for a “very active” season with landfall probabilities “well above their long-period averages.” The forecast, released late last month, foresees 17 storms with nine of them becoming hurricanes. Five of those are expected to be intense, and the likelihood of a major hurricane making landfall in the United States is estimated to be about 55 percent higher than the long-term average.

Much of the Gulf Coast is still struggling to recover from last summer’s storms, and more than 20 percent of the oil-producing infrastructure of the Gulf is still shutdown.

Colorado State Professor William Gray said: “Even though we expect to see the current active period of Atlantic major hurricane activity to continue for another 15 to 20 years, it is statistically unlikely that the coming 2006-2007 hurricane seasons, or the seasons that follow, will have the number of major hurricane U.S. landfall events as we have seen in 2004-2005.”

What are the chances of another major hurricane making landfall on U.S. soil? The hurricane forecast team said there is an 81 percent chance that will happen on our coastline. The long-term average probability is 52 percent.

There is a 64 percent chance a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast, including Florida. The long-term average is 31 percent. There is a 47 percent chance that a major hurricane will make landfall somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, Texas. The long-term average there is 30 percent.

The team also said there will be an above-average risk of major hurricane landfall in the Caribbean.

NASA oceanographers say the recent La Nina in the eastern Pacific is not likely to have any effect on the Atlantic hurricane season this year. Normally, a La Nina tends to increase Atlantic hurricane activity and reduce the number of Pacific storms.

The more active Atlantic season is expected because of environmental factors other than a La Nina. Conditions favorable to hurricanes, such as the location of the Bermuda high (which removes much of the wind shear in the western Atlantic that blocks hurricanes’ progress, and warm surface temperatures in the Gulf).

Bill Patzert, NASA oceanographer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, commented: “The recent increased frequency of the hurricanes is thought to be part of a larger decades-long cycle of alternating increases and decreases of hurricane activity. The current busy hurricane cycle began in 1995 and could continue for another 10 to 25 years.”

From the May 17-23, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!