UPDATE 2-US forecasters see more active Atlantic hurricane season

Thu Aug 9, 2012 10:00pm IST

* El Nino still expected but not until late in season

* Warm sea surface temperatures seen aiding storm formation

* Most active hurricane months are August through October (Adds quotes, detail, byline)

By Jane Sutton

MIAMI, Aug 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. weather agency NOAA predicted a slightly more active 2012 Atlantic hurricane season on Thursday, saying warming seas and the late arrival of El Nino would bring near-normal to above-normal storm activity.

Forecasters expect the June-through-November season will bring 12 to 17 tropical storms, with five to eight of those becoming hurricanes and two to three strengthening into major hurricanes.

That was a slight increase from the May forecast, when the agency predicted there would be nine to 15 tropical storms, with four to eight becoming hurricanes and one to three strengthening into major hurricanes. Major hurricanes have sustained winds of 111 miles per hour (178 km per hour) or higher and can cause devastating damage.

An average year brings about 12 tropical storms with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters boosted their outlook in part because the season got off to a strong and early start.

Two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, formed in May before the season officially began on June 1. There have now been six tropical storms, two of which strengthened into hurricanes, and the season is just entering what is traditionally the most active period.

Sea-surface temperatures are higher than usual in the Atlantic region, which contributes to hurricane formation.

Although the hurricane-squelching El Nino pattern is still expected, it has not appeared yet. El Nino is a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific and brings shearing winds that hamper storm formation in the Atlantic.

The forecasters said it would likely form in August or September and that it would take a few weeks after that for its impact to reach the Atlantic.

"We don't expect El Nino's influence until later in the season," said Gerry Bell, NOAA's lead hurricane season forecaster.

El Nino is less welcome in other parts of the globe because it tends to bring heavy rain to Pacific Islands and the west coast of Central America, and crop-killing drought to Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Africa and India.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 37.3 million people live along the Atlantic coast from Texas to North Carolina, the area most at risk from hurricanes.

The forecasters warned residents outside the hurricane belt to prepare as well. Inland flooding is the most dangerous aspect of a hurricane, as Hurricane Irene showed last year, said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA's National Weather Service.

Irene hit North Carolina and then chugged north along the U.S. Atlantic coast through New Jersey, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, causing severe flooding in areas that rarely get hurricanes.

"In the last 30 years, inland flooding has caused more than half the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States," Furgione said.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Shares Hit Record

Sensex, Nifty rise to second consecutive record high

Sensex surges 500 points on BOJ easing, L&T gains

The BSE Sensex and Nifty surged to record highs for a second consecutive session on Friday after Bank of Japan's surprise expansion of its massive stimulus programme raised hopes for additional foreign inflows, boosting blue-chips such as Larsen & Toubro.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ban on E-Cigs?

Ban on E-Cigs?

Govt considers ban on e-cigarettes, sale of single smokes.  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Silver futures in India hit four-year low on global cues.  Full Article 

BOJ Policy

BOJ Policy

BOJ shocks markets with surprise easing as inflation slows.  Full Article 

Cost Cutting

Cost Cutting

PM Narendra Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin  Full Article 

Leisure Riding

Leisure Riding

Harley-Davidson woos affluent young Indians with bike culture  Full Article 

Shadow Banking

Shadow Banking

China's shadow banking sector growing rapidly, third largest in world - FSB.  Full Article 

Moody's on India

Moody's on India

Moody's welcomes India's policy steps, but wants to see more.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage