FOR METEOROLOGIST GLENN GLAZER'S TAKE ON NOAA'S OUTLOOK, CLICK THE VIDEO IN THE UPPER LEFT.
It should be a busier than normal tropical season with 12-18 named storms, including 6-10 hurricanes, government forecasters said Thursday. They predict 3 to 6 of the hurricanes will be major with winds greater than 110 mph.
The main ingredients expected to fuel the season: El Niño, the atmospheric force that inhibits storm formation, is not expected to emerge and instead, its polar opposite La Niña, might linger into the summer. Also, the Atlantic basin remains in an era of hurricane intensity.
On the other hand, it should be calmer than last year, when 19 named storms, including 12 hurricanes, five intense, emerged. That is largely because sea surface temperatures in tropical development regions are cooler than they were in 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
The average season sees 11 named storms, including six hurricanes, two intense.
Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, noted the agency's outlook for last year's season was "spot on." Last May, NOAA predicted 2010 would see 14-23 named storms, including 8-14 hurricanes and 3-7 major hurricanes.
NOAA’s outlook makes no attempt to say how many storms will hit land or what coastal areas are most at risk. However, during active seasons the United States is more likely to be struck by hurricanes, Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead hurricane forecaster, said.
He said the nation was “extremely lucky” last year, considering no hurricanes struck the U.S. coastline.
“Typically, with high activity like that, we’d probably see two, three or more hurricanes hit,” he said in an interview with the Sun Sentinel.
“Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines,” Lubchenco said in a statement. “However we can’t count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook.”
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