Canadian Underwriter

NOAA predicting above-average 2007 hurricane season

June 1, 2007   by

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There is a 75% chance the 2007 hurricane season will be above normal, according to the NOAA [National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration].

An average season is one in which there are 11 storms, six of which become hurricanes and two of which become major [Category 3-5] hurricanes.

“For the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, scientists predict 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes,” said NOAA administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher, a retired Navy vice admiral and undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. Of these hurricanes, Lautenbacher said, “three to five could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher.”

According to the NOAA, the “on-going multi-decadal signal [which describes the set of ocean and atmospheric conditions that spawn increased hurricane activity], warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the El Nio/ La Nia cycle,” are all factors increasing the severity of the 2007 hurricane season.

The severity of the season is largely based on whether El Nia forms, the NOAA notes. If it does form, its strength will play a factor in whether storm activity will be in the upper end (or beyond the upper end) of the predicted range.

Even if El Nia doesn’t form, it is expected that we will still see a higher than normal season this year, the NOAA predicts.

“With expectations for an active season, it is critically important that people who live in East and Gulf Coastal areas as well as the Caribbean be prepared,” Bill Proenza, NOAA National Hurricane Center director, said. “Now is the time to update your hurricane plan, not when the storm is bearing down on you.”

The Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, also found that the 2007 hurricane season is likely going to be “very active,” with landfall probabilities well above their long-period averages.

This is largely due to the rapid dissipation of El Nio conditions, according to researchers at the University.

The researchers say the probability of at least one major (Category 3-5) hurricane reaching landfall on the U.S. coastline is 74%, compared to an average of 52% for the last century.

“We estimate that 2007 will have about nine hurricanes (average is 5.9), 17 named storms (average is 9.6), 85 named storm days (average is 49.1), 40 hurricane days (average is 24.5), five intense (Category 3-5) hurricanes (average is 2.3) and 11 intense hurricane days (average is 5),” Dr. William Gray writes.

Researchers are hesitating to link the potentially active season to global warming or climate change, explaining that Atlantic hurricanes go through “multi-decadal cycles.”

“This active cycle is expected to continue for another decade or two, at which time we should enter a quieter Atlantic major hurricane period like we experienced during the quarter century periods of 1970-1994 and 1901-1925,” Gray predicts.