We got off easy last year, according to
National Hurricane Center forecasters, who admitted they
overestimated last year's near normal Atlantic Hurricane season,
when 10 storms and five hurricanes took shape, and underestimated
2005's record-breaking hurricane season, including Katrina which
caused more than $80 billion in damage.
Gerry Bell, lead
forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's Climate Prediction Center, said that forecasters
were blindsided last year "because of a rapidly developing El Nino,
which suppressed storm formation."
Bell said that in
2007 forecasters are looking at "opposite conditions where we may
develop La Nina."
El Nino exists
when Pacific Ocean temperatures rise above the historical average;
La Nina occurs when ocean temperatures cool.
that La Nina climate conditions in the eastern Pacific region will,
more than likely, support hurricane development this
This active era
began in 1995 and could last between 25 and 40 years.
forecasters now predict above-average storm activity this season,
which officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
for 13 to 17 named storms that swell into seven to 10 hurricanes --
three of which become major storms with winds above 110
"It takes just
one hurricane to make it a bad year," said Conrad Lautenbacher,
Jr., NOAA administrator.
Bill Proenza, who
succeeded Max Mayfield as the new director of the National
Hurricane Center in Miami, warned those who live in the hurricane
zone to take the forecast seriously.
William Gray and
Phil Klotzbach, Colorado State University researchers in the
school's Tropical Meteorology Dept., earlier predicted a very
active season, mirroring in effect the National Hurricane Center's
forecast issued May 22.
State University team called for 17 named storms that could grow
into nine hurricanes, including five "intense" hurricanes reaching
Category 3 levels with winds of 111 mph or higher.
This works out to
be 40 hurricane days, versus the 2005 percentage of 25.3
Already, the 2007
season produced Subtropical Storm Andrea on May 9. (Weather systems
become named storms when winds reach 39 mph; storms become,
hurricanes with winds of 74 mph and higher.)
Firms touting the
hurricane forecasts this year include Air Partner (www.airpartnerusa.com), which offers a hurricane
evacuation program on chartered aircraft; AIG Travel Guard (www.travelguard.com), and the Caribbean Catastrophe
Risk Insurance Facility, which includes 18 Caribbean countries, and
has pledged budget support to cover urgent expenses while the
countries await further support in the first few months after a
director of finance in St. Lucia, said that Caribbean countries
have advocated some kind of catastrophic insurance such as
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].