Forecasters Predict Up To Six Hurricanes in Atlantic This Year

AEN News

Washington - This year's hurricane season in the Atlantic is getting more attention than ever before, following the devastating losses last year in the gulf coast states. This year, forecasters are predicting four to six major hurricanes will form in the Atlantic.

The season, which begins next week and ends in November, will yield 13 to 16 named storms in all, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today. As many as 10 storms will strengthen into hurricanes, unleashing winds of 74mph or more, according to NOAA. NOAA weather forecasters are predicting a milder hurricane season in the Atlantic this year than last, but 2005 was a record-breaking year and forecasters say that this type of weather pattern is here to stay for at least two-decades.

For the first time, NOAA forecasters are admitting that the unusually high amount of hurricanes off the Atlantic seaboard in the US are caused by the earth's global warming, saying that man's emissions of greenhouse gases are to blame. Other forecasters already had predicted another intense hurricane season as Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures remain warmer than average.

"That's not good news, and the message is very clear: We need to be prepared,'' Max Mayfield, director of coastal and marine resources at NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami, said during a news conference. Four major storms hit the US, including Hurricane Katrina, which submerged New Orleans and devastated the eastern Gulf Coast, causing an estimated $80 billion in damage and killing almost 1,600 people last year.

In New Orleans today, re-elected mayor, Ray Nagin, said the city was preparing for this year's hurricane season with planned evacuation drills. Other cities along the gulf coast are preparing for similar hurricane evacuation drills as well as hundreds of coastal cities and towns take heed of what happened last year.

Last year set the record for total hurricanes with 15, topping the 12 hurricanes of 1969. The hurricane season, which officially ends Nov. 30, continued into the new year. All but two of the last 11 years have produced above-average numbers of tropical storms or hurricanes as Atlantic Ocean temperatures have remained above normal. Conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean also have increased tropical activity in the Atlantic.

During the past five years, more major hurricanes already have hit the US than in any decade since the 1950s, according to NOAA data. If this year's forecasts are right, this may become the most-intense decade for hurricanes on record, eclipsing the 10 major hurricanes that struck the U.S. in the 1940s.