Hurricane forecast uncertain for 2009 season

| 26/05/2009

(CNS): Global weather patterns are imposing a greater uncertainty in the 2009 hurricane season outlook than in recent years, forecasters from the NOAA have said. With just a few days to go before the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane starts on 1 June they say there is a 70 percent chance of having nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). They say there is a 50% chance it will be as near normal a season as possible.

“This outlook is a guide to the overall expected seasonal activity. However, the outlook is not just about the numbers, it’s also about taking action,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

The issue of preparation dominated a NOAA presentation last week when US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said that timely and accurate warnings of severe weather help save lives and property. “Public awareness and public preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane,” he added.

According to the experts this season’s outlook is shaped by competing climate factors. Supporting more activity this season are conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era that began in 1995, which include enhanced rainfallover West Africa, warmer Atlantic waters and reduced wind shear. But activity could be reduced if El Nino develops in the equatorial Eastern Pacific this summer or if ocean temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic remain cooler than normal.

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook does not project where and when any of these storms may hit. Landfall is dictated by weather patterns in place at the time the storm approaches. “NOAA strives to produce the best possible forecasts to help emergency officials and residents better prepare for an approaching storm,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

Tropical systems acquire a name – the first for 2009 will be Ana – upon reaching tropical storm strength with sustained winds of at least 39 mph. Tropical storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph, and become major hurricanes when winds increase to 111 mph. An average season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes with two becoming major hurricanes.

NOAA scientists will continue to monitor evolving conditions in the tropics and will issue an updated hurricane outlook in early August, just prior to what is historically the peak period for hurricane activity.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Does anybody notice that hardly any (if any at all) preparedness drills have taken place (no doubt because of elections). Are we prepared Cayman?

    And with all the hate amongst each other, God help us. Not help us if we have a hurricane, help us to love one another. This only seems to happen after a major devastation where we are left with only what’s important, each other.

    Warning: Sarcasm ahead

    I pray that we don’t have another lesson this year, given that we did so well after the last one. Because we did continue to treat each other like human beings and help each other after we got over Ivan, right? Right?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now there’s a headline for ya, ‘Hurricane forecast uncertain for 2009 season’.  Well d-u-h, at last forecasters are fessing up to the fact that they don’t know Jack!  That’s not to say folk shouldn’t take all the necessary precautions, but we must not let forecasters and the media get to us.  Seeing those awful weather people drawing stupid circles and squiggles over a tropical map is infuriating.  It’s like letting a toddler lose with Crayolas on the kitchen floor. They’d be as well off picking up a Caribbean map, putting it on its spine and letting it fall open;   then, eyes closed, trace a finger to a specific area and BANG, there’s your hit point.  I swear that’s what meteorologists do anyway. I’d really love to learn what techniques they use to cast these pitifully incorrect predictions. Oh, and I wish they’d quit pretending like they called a disaster. Face it, their predictions as to the storm surge and the wind, etc. are usually waaaay off mark. Saying they “called it” means that they wined and dined Lady Luck… nothing else.  I wish I got paid to only be about 25% accurate!  We need to listen to our own front man, Fred Sambula because he uses words like “unpredictable”, “be prepared” and “nobody knows.”  I can respect that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ll start:  I HATE HURRICANES! 

    That’s all.