Back in December, 2000, Dr. Gray indicated that the upcoming 2001 Atlantic Hurricane Season would be a much quieter one compared to recent years. As a matter of fact, the preeminent hurricane forecaster indicated that this coming hurricane season would be normal since a mild El Nino episode was forecasted to develop this summer after a somewhat prolonged period of normal weather patterns had dominated weather in the Western Hemisphere, and sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic were above normal.
These two factors would in essence cancel each other out. However, by April, Gray showed signs of changing his tune by boosting the numbers slightly from normal to above normal. The increase continued in his latest forecast as Dr. Gray indicated that the continued cooling of waters in the Pacific coupled with tremendous rainfall in Western Africa made it possible that we'll see 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
With the start of the 2001 Atlantic Hurricane Season, people were anticipating a quiet hurricane season, which made government officials from the National Hurricane Center, FEMA, the National Weather Service, and NOAA strongly insist that coastal residents not let down their guard a few weeks ago. That was further amplified by the sudden development of Tropical Storm Allison during the week of June 4th 2001.
However, forecasters and officials won't have to worry now about pleading with residents to not let down their guard (although they shouldn't have to do that in the first place) as Dr. William Gray, preeminent hurricane forecaster from Colorado State raised his projections for the 2001 Atlantic Hurricane Season significantly from earlier this year.
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The change in forecast by Dr. Gray was not something that was expected. Many saw that this would be an average hurricane season, and much less active than that in recent years. However, Dr. Gray observed that sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean have cooled while rainfall amounts in Western Africa have gone up. This was unexpected since back in December, 2001, Dr. Gray indicated that there would be a mild El Nino event where sea surface temperatures would warm slightly.
El Nino events are known for preventing Atlantic Hurricane Development since El Nino anomalies create hostile upper level wind conditions in the atmosphere that aren't conducive to tropical development in the Atlantic. Furthermore, the rain increase in the Western portion of Africa caused Dr. Gray to change his mind, and his forecast.
This news was also accompanied by the development of Tropical Storm Allison in the Gulf, and gave people an indication that maybe the 2001 season won't be a quiet one after all. It is very important to note, that we have entered a elongated period of tremendous tropical activity, and this is expected to last for the next 15 to 20 years so people should realize that what may be considered as average may still be quite active, and most importantly, it only takes one storm.
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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.
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