NOAA predicts near or below normal hurricane season

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Predictions for a near- or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season were released Thursday, May 22, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The prediction includes a 70 percent likelihood for eight to 13 named storms, including three to six potential hurricanes and one to two major hurricanes.

There is a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, and a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season.

During a May 22 news conference based in Brooklyn, N.Y., NOAA administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan released the prediction for a near- or below-normal season.

“Several factors drive our outlook this year, one leading one is the likelihood that an El Niño will developing early in the summer or early fall,” Sullivan said. “And one way that El Niño suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity is by increasing the amount of wind shear, which inhibits cyclonic development and growth and so reduces the number and the intensity of storms.”

She said El Niño also increases the trade winds and the atmospheric stability across the Atlantic basin.

“No percentage number, no probability number high or low erases the fact that the real message is we’re starting into hurricane season, any section of our coastline can be hit by a severe tropical storm,” Sullivan said. “And one storm, whatever the probabilities are, one storm can wreak tremendous havoc. … Today needs to be, first and foremost, about preparedness for the season ahead.”

Dr. Louis Uccellini, NOAA National Weather Service director, said NOAA is working to improve model forecasts.

“It’s fitting that we would announce our Atlantic hurricane seasonal outlook here in New York City given the lasting impacts of Sandy still being fresh in everyone’s mind,” Uccellini said.

Dr. Holly Bamford, NOAA National Ocean Service director, announced the new NOAA potential storm surge flood map available for the 2014 season.

“This experimental visualization tool allows us to present storm surge information in a way that communities can respond and make decisions quickly,” Bamford said. “…It only takes six inches of fast moving water to knock an adult over. Of the 313 million people that live in this country, 40 percent of us live in coastal shoreline counties, and that number is expected to increase by 8 percent by the year 2020.”

Hurricane season averages from 1981 through 2010 include 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

The full story will be printed Thursday, May 29.

email kelly@luminanews.com

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