Above-average hurricane activity predicted for 2011
Published: Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 21:07
June 1 marks the start of the 2011 hurricane season, and the National Hurricane Center is predicting an above-average summer with three to six major hurricanes of Category 3 and above possible in the Atlantic.
Hurricane Adrian, a Category 4 storm off the Pacific coast of Mexico, ushered in the 2011 season in the second week of June. It fizzled by June 13, never reaching the shore.
The 2011 seasonal outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center calls for 12 to 18 named storms with wind speeds of 39 mph or higher, six to 10 of which could become hurricanes with wind speeds of 74 mph or higher. Three to six of these could become major hurricanes of Categories 3, 4 and 5 with wind speeds of 111 mph or higher.
On average, 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes hit the Atlantic every year.
The warm Atlantic Ocean water and the continuing era of high storm activity that has lasted 16 years are among factors that lead experts to believe hurricane activity between now and November will be above average.
William Gray and Philip Klotzbach, the team leading Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project, are predicting 16 named storms and five major hurricanes as of June 1. Their newly released predictions are based on a statistical methodology that utilizes nearly 30 years of past data. The report states that the researchers' statistical approach shows "significant skill over climatology." According to their findings, the probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the east coast is now 48 percent, while the average for the last century is 31 percent.
The report also states that "The probability of landfall for any one location along the coast is very low and reflects the fact that in any one season, most U.S. coastal areas will not feel the effects of a hurricane no matter how active the individual season is."
Environmental Health and Safety at UNCW warns that hurricanes are the most likely natural hazard for UNCW. Information for students and faculty regarding safety and preparedness during hurricane season can be found at the EH&S Hurricane website http://uncw.edu/ba/safety/hurricanes.html.