National Hurricane Center Forecasts ‘Active To Extremely Active’ 2013 Season

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The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season this year is expected to be “active or extremely active,” federal forecasters said Thursday.

The season will bring 13 to 20 named storms, of which seven to 11 will be hurricanes and three to six of those will be major hurricanes, according to a forecast released Thursday by the National Hurricane Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A named storm has sustained winds of at least 39 mph, and a hurricane has sustained winds of at least 74 mph. A major hurricane is a category 3 or greater, meaning it has sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

The seasonal average is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

The forecast for an “active or extremely active” hurricane season is due to a variety of climate factors, said Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA’s acting administrator. The Atlantic Ocean began a period of greater tropical-storm activity in 1995 with warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Near-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean means it is unlikely an El Niño feature will develop to suppress tropical activity in the Atlantic, Sullivan said. The factors combined produce lower wind shear, lower air pressure and conductive wind patterns coming from Africa, all of which produce more and stronger hurricanes, she said.

The National Hurricane Center does not predict how many storms will hit land or where a tropical storm might hit along the East Coast or Gulf Coast.

“Last year, to remind you, we had four land falling storms: Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf Coast, Sandy in the Mid-Atlantic region, and tropical storms Beryl and Debby in northern Florida,” Sullivan said in a conference call with media, adding that each one threatened areas farther inland with flooding and wind.

Parts of Connecticut are still in various states of disrepair or construction after a back-to-back walloping in the past two years — Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Storm Sandy last year.

NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster Gerry Bell said the path of any storm depends on conditions at the time. Generally speaking, the factors that lead to this season being active or extremely active also increase the likelihood that storms will track farther west than an average year, Bell said.

“And therefore, historically, we do tend to see more hurricane strikes along both the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast as well as the entire region around the Gulf and the Caribbean Sea,” Bell said.

Families, businesses and communities should get ready for the next big storm, said Joe Nimmich, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s associate administrator for Response and Recovery.

“Preparedness today can make a big difference down the line, so update your family emergency plan and make sure your emergency kit is stocked,” Nimmich said in a prepared statement. “Learn more about how you can prepare for hurricane season at www.ready.gov/hurricanes.”

The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. In addition to the National Hurricane Center, another closely watched forecasting entity is Colorado State University, which is in its 30th year of predicting hurricanes in the Atlantic.

In early April, the Colorado forecasters said they expect 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes during the 2013 season.

A year ago, the Colorado forecasters predicted the 2012 season would bring 10 named storms, four hurricanes and two major hurricanes in the Atlantic. Also last year, the National Hurricane Center predicted in May that the 2012 season would deliver between nine and 15 named storms, or which four to eight would be hurricanes and one to three would be major hurricanes.

Last year, the hurricane season actually produced 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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One thought on “National Hurricane Center Forecasts ‘Active To Extremely Active’ 2013 Season

  1. sue

    These people are clowns. Here is my prediction There will be 10 -15 named storms only one of which will hit the US mainland. How do I know. I don’t. I’m guessing just like these fools

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