Federal officials have downgraded original projections for the 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Season to 12 to 15 named storms, of which seven to nine would become hurricanes, including three or four becoming major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. The original forecast called for 13 to 16 named storms.

The revised prediction was based on factors that included sea surface temperatures.

Already, at the midpoint in the six-month season, Tropical Storms Alberto, Beryl and Chris have come and gone with little impact. By this point in the 2005 season, there had been nine named storms and four hurricanes.

Despite the recent lull in activity, officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that the threat still remained real for an above-average hurricane season, as has been the case for the last nine of 11 years. 

This is not a time for complacency, said Max Mayfield, director of NOAAs National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The peak storm period runs from mid-August to mid-October, although the season does not officially end until Nov. 30.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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