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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local NOAA Predicts A Near-normal 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

NOAA Predicts A Near-normal 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season

CAROLINA BEACH - Hurricane Season is June 1 thru November 30, and two tropical storms have already popped up in the Atlantic in recent weeks.
NOAA officials announced their prediction for the 2012 season during a press conference on May 24, at the Miami Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory; also home to the Hurricane Research Division.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season.
According to the National Hurricane Center, "For the entire six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and of those one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5). Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes."
NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. explained, “NOAA’s outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years,” but, "regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.” Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992, was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named storms.
New Hanover County residents also have first hand knowledge after visits from strong storms such as Huricanes Fran, Bonnie and Floyd in the late 1990's. Fran brought massive damage to the area requiring many months of recovery and rebuilding of damaged and lost homes.
According to NOAA, "Favoring storm development in 2012: the continuation of the overall conditions associated with the Atlantic high-activity era that began in 1995, in addition to near-average sea surface temperatures across much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, known as the Main Development Region. Two factors now in place that can limit storm development, if they persist, are: strong wind shear, which is hostile to hurricane formation in the Main Development Region, and cooler sea surface temperatures in the far eastern Atlantic."
Gerry Bell, Ph.D. - lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center - explained, "Another potentially competing climate factor would be El Niño if it develops by late summer to early fall. In that case, conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during
the peak months (August-October) of the season, possibly shifting the activity toward the lower end of the predicted range.”
Lubchenco explained, "NOAA's improvement in monitoring and predicting hurricanes has been remarkable over the decades since Andrew, in large part because of our sustained commitment to research and better technology.
But more work remains to unlock the secrets of hurricanes, especially in the area of rapid intensification and weakening of storms.”
She explained, "We're stepping up to meet this challenge through our Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which has already demonstrated exciting early progress toward improving storm intensity forecasts."
Lubchenco said more accurate forecasts about a storm's intensity at landfall and extending the forecast period beyond five days will help America become a more "Weather-Ready Nation."
NOAA this season is introducing enhancements to two of the computer models available to forecasters - the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) models.
According to the NOAA, "The HWRF model has been upgraded with a higher resolution and improved atmospheric physics. This latest version has demonstrated a 20 to 25 percent improvement in track forecasts and a 15 percent improvement in intensity forecasts
relative to the previous version while also showing improvement in the representation of storm structure and size. Improvements to the GFDL model for 2012 include physics upgrades that are expected to reduce or eliminate a high bias in the model's intensity forecasts."
NOAA officials say the seasonal outlook does not predict how many storms will hit land. Forecasts for individual storms and their impacts are provided by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, which continuously monitors the tropics for storm development and tracking throughout the season using an array of tools including satellites, advance computer
modeling, hurricane hunter aircraft, and land- and ocean-based observations sources such as radars and buoys.
May 27- June 2, is national Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help prepare residents of hurricane-prone areas, video and audio public service announcements featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA administrator are available in both English and Spanish.
Tim Manning - FEMA deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness - explained, "Every hurricane season we ask families, communities, and businesses to ensure they are prepared and visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes" and, "Being prepared includes developing a family
emergency plan, putting an emergency kit together or updating your existing kit, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved to ensure your community is ready."
NOAA’s outlook for the Eastern Pacific basin is for a near-normal hurricane season and the Central Pacific basin is expected to have a below-normal season. NOAA
will issue an updated seasonal outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.
For more information, visit  NOAA online at www.noaa.gov
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).