NOAA hurricane prediction sees 'very active' '06 season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a very active Atlantic hurricane season in 2006, according to a report issued May 22, just eight days before the official start of the season June 1.

Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said NOAA is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, including eight to 10 that rise to the level of hurricanes, and four to six that could become major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

That number is higher than the prevailing average in of 11 named storms, six of which become hurricanes and two that reach Category 3. In 2005, Lautenbacher said, the Atlantic saw a record 28 named storms, or which 15 became hurricanes and seven that hit Category 3 or higher, including a record of four major hurricanes that hit the U.S.

The potential of storms striking the U.S. is high [in 2006], he added.

Factors contributing to the prediction include warmer ocean temperatures, lower wind shear, weaker easterly trade winds and mid-level atmospheric conditions that are more favorable to the development of storms.

Whether we face an active hurricane season, like this year, or a below-normal season, the crucial message for every person is the same: prepare, prepare, prepare, said Max Mayfield, director of NOAAs National Hurricane Center. One hurricane hitting where you live is enough to make it a bad season.

NOAAs National Hurricane Center Web address is www.nhc.noaa.gov.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to David Cogswell at [email protected].

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