Fw: Hurricane season yet to peak
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Hurricane season yet to peak
Four more predicted this month alone
By Ken Kaye
September 3, 2005
It's far from over.
The peak of hurricane season doesn't officially
arrive for another week, yet 13 named storms
already have emerged. In a normal six-month
season, 10 storms form, and on average the last
one doesn't arrive until the end of October.
Another seven to eight named systems are expected
to form over the next three months, atmospheric
conditions are conducive to supercharging them
and steering patterns could drive some toward the
U.S. shoreline, experts say.
On Friday, storm prognosticator William Gray
predicted that this month alone, four more
hurricanes, two intense, would develop.
"It's a sad thing to say, but we're not done,"
said Stanley Goldenberg, meteorologist with the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
Hurricane Research Division.
There already have been four hurricanes -- in the
normal season, the fourth develops on average
Sept. 24 -- and three of those, Dennis, Emily and
Katrina, were intense, with winds greater than
110 mph. Historically, only two major systems
form per year.
If the tropical hyperactivity continues, "there
is a legitimate possibility that this could be
the most active season on record," said Phil
Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado
State University. "We are definitely full
Experts say the Atlantic basin has entered an era
of hurricane intensity, the result of a natural
cycle of warm water shifting to the region where
storms are spawned and grow. The era began in
1995 and could last another 10 to 30 years.
From 1995 to 2004, there have been 141 named
storms, including 78 hurricanes, 38 intense, the
most active period in Atlantic tropical history.
By comparison, during the first 10 years of the
previous era of intensity, from 1944 to 1966,
there were 103 named storms and 64 hurricanes, of
which 35 were intense.
If there is some good news, the last few tropical
systems that formed in the Atlantic have had
difficulty strengthening. On Friday, Tropical
Storm Maria rose in the Central Atlantic and was
forecast to aim north, without threatening land.
However, as evidenced by Katrina, storms can fade
and come back much stronger in the extremely warm
waters of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
Katrina started as Tropical Depression No. 10
before dissipating into a wave -- which
regenerated near the Bahamas.
Forecasters predict a total of up to 21 named
systems this year, enough to exhaust the list of
standard hurricane names. The most storms ever
recorded in a season: 21 in 1933.
How many will make landfall and where is unknown.
But so far, steering currents have aimed four
systems toward the north Gulf Coast, including
tropical storms Arlene and Cindy and hurricanes
Dennis and Katrina -- much as the Bermuda High,
an area of high pressure in the Eastern Atlantic,
pushed storm after storm toward Florida last year.
Some scientists blame global warming for the
surge in tropical activity. Notably, Kerry
Emanuel, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology
professor and meteorologist, found that the
strength and duration of storms have increased by
50 percent since the 1970s. He found a high
correlation between hurricane power and
Many in the hurricane-forecasting community dispute that.
"If global warming were to blame, one would
expect tropical cyclones in all basins -- that
is, West Pacific, East Pacific, Indian, Southern
Hemisphere -- to increase," Klotzbach said.
"However, global tropical cyclones have actually
decreased over the past 10 years."
He and others point to additional factors that
have promoted storm formation this year,
including low vertical wind shear, above average
rainfall in West Africa during June and July, and
intense heat waves that have resulted in
record-breaking temperatures across the United
"We don't know why, but it appears that might be
associated with conditions that produce the
really, really intense hurricanes," Goldenberg
For example, at their strongest points, Hurricane
Dennis spun up to 150 mph before hitting near
Pensacola as a Category 3; Hurricane Emily, 155
mph before striking the Yucatan as a Category 3
and Hurricane Katrina, 175 mph, before slamming
New Orleans, and Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., as a
Hurricane authorities urge residents not to be
caught up in numbers, but rather be prepared.
"What it comes down to is, are you ready for the
rest of this year?" Goldenberg said. "Have a
party with your supplies when the season's over."
Ken Kaye can be reached at kkaye@... ore 954-385-7911.
Copyright � 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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