Weather forecasters are predicting an
active hurricane season, which starts June 1. But will it top last
years record number of 27 named storms and 14 hurricanes?
Theres no way we
could have another year like last year, said Denis Phillips, chief
meteorologist at WFTS-TV in Tampa.
Phillips was one
of 150 weather experts who gathered at the Bahamas Weather
Conference, held recently at Our Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island, to
look back on the 2005 hurricane season and look ahead to the 2006
The 2006 season
will be an active one, with 17 named storms, of which nine will
reach hurricane strength, and of those, five will be between
Category 3 and Category 5 storms, said William Gray, head of the
Dept. of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
A Category 3
storm has winds of 111 to 130 mph; a Category 5 has winds greater
than 155 mph.
Gray said he is
predicting a greater number of storms than he did last year. He
recalculated his 2005 forecast several times during the
The setting is
right for another active season because the sea-surface
temperatures remain high, which ups the odds, he said.
warming contribute to 2005s busy season? Gray does not think
We should not
blame last year for human-induced global warming as a cause of the
heightened storm activity in the Atlantic region, he said. Were in
a high-activity cycle in the Atlantic Basin that began in 1995.
Currents off the U.S. East Coast have caused a ridge that has
steered storms westward over the U.S., especially in 2004 and 2005.
Before that, there was a trough that deflected storms away from the
The earth has
warmed up a half-degree centigrade or more in the last 30 years,
but that is due more to ocean circulation changes and natural
cycles than to anything humans have done, said Gray.
Nature will do us
in, not ourselves. Were just not that influential that we can alter
the earths temperature, Gray said.
director of the National Hurricane Center, said the accuracy of
last years storm-tracking methods was a positive during a
disastrous hurricane season.
that hit the Caribbean, Mexico and the U.S. coasts were major
storms days before they made landfall, Mayfield said. We were able
to give ample warning, and our predictions proved accurate most of
does not want is for people to go to bed expecting a Category 1
storm but wake up facing a Category 3 or higher storm. We must
continue to hone our abilities and resources to track and predict
these storms as accurately and as far in advance as possible, he
Will Shaffer of the National Weather Service, predicted more
hurricanes in the next few years. The dice have been cold for the
last 30 years, except for 2004 and 2005. Well get more storms, but
I hope that 2005 will sit as the record year and not be
A panel of
experts assembled by Robert Sheets, former director of the National
Hurricane Center, discussed the need for stronger building codes to
protect people along hurricane-prone coastlines; the necessity to
stockpile emergency supplies of batteries, water and rations; and
the importance of heeding evacuation orders early.
What would happen
if a hurricane were to hit New York? That scenario was described by
Nicholas Coch, a professor at Queens College in New York. You
havent seen anything yet until the big one hits a major urban
center. Subways cannot be used as part of the evacuation picture in
cities like Boston or New York, he said.
The stakes are
high in coastal cities, he said. Engineers are finally waking up to
the fact that its not the fluid pressure caused by hurricanes but
the debris and winds spawned by these storms that break urban
structures, said Coch.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].