As a part of Hurricane Awareness Week, the National Hurricane Center, NOAA, the National Weather Service, and FEMA as well as other government agencies responsible for emergency management, disaster response, and weather forecasting, came together to have a press conference to kick off Hurricane Awareness Week.
Stacy Stewart, a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center that we've interviewed recently, helped design and provide info for its own web site. During this press conference, all of the officials involved with these government agencies indicated that we will have an average year, but also emphasized that it doesn't mean we should let our guard down.
Citing an absence of any El Nino or La Nina phenomena in the Pacific Ocean, and long term tropical development factors such as tropical rainfall, air pressure, and sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, and Caribbean Sea, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center, NOAA, and the National Weather Service believed that as many as 11 named storms will develop, and that will include between five to seven hurricanes during the course of the 2001 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Two of those five to seven hurricanes are expected to be intense, or have winds of Category Three Strength or greater. A normal Atlantic Hurricane Season usually brings along 10 tropical storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. Forecasters will monitor the key development factors as well as any anomalies up and until August when the peak of the hurricane season is about to commence.
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While forecasters predicted numbers that amounted to only a normal hurricane season, they strongly emphasized at the same time, that people should not let their guard down, especially along coastal areas. Forecasters are concerned that the issuing of a normal forecast will give coastal residents and tourists visiting coastal towns and resorts a false sense of security during the hurricane season.
They provided examples of years where tropical activity has been average or below average, and still had a major hurricane that was very powerful, and most importantly, deadly. Forecasters cited, the years of 1900, 1935, 1938, and 1992 as clear examples that the numbers don't mean anything, and that all it takes is one storm. In each of these years, activity was below average, but there were still deadly storms.
These included the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which was the deadliest natural disaster in United States History, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, which was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States, the Long Island Express of 1938, which barreled into New England and killed 600 people, and Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in August 1992.
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The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1st every year, and lasts until November 30th. The Atlantic Basin consists of the North Atlantic from the West Coast of Africa to the East Coast of the United States, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The number of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes have been up over the past six years as there have been an average of 13 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.
This has come about due to the La Nina, which is a phenomena that develops when sea surface temperatures in the Eastern and Central Pacific are cooler than normal. This anomaly changes the global weather patterns including making the upper level wind patterns more favorable toward tropical storm and hurricane development in the Atlantic Basin. Meanwhile, El Nino patterns hinder Atlantic tropical development.
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