05/18/04 — Busier-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season expected

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Busier-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season expected

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on May 18, 2004 1:58 PM

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters are predicting an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. At a news conference Monday in Houston, Texas, NOAA officials said the season outlook is for 12 to 15 tropical storms, with six to eight systems becoming hurricanes, and two to four of those major hurricanes.

Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency officials joined NOAA in urging Gulf and Atlantic Coast states to be prepared for an active season, which runs from June 1 through November 30.

"NOAA investments in high speed computers, improved weather modeling and extensive Earth observation systems enable our scientists and forecasters to gather and synthesize information and begin the process of preparing the public to take action," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator said.

"NOAA's 2004 Atlantic hurricane season outlook indicates a 50 percent probability of an above-normal season, a 40 percent probability of a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season," said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service. Similar seasons averaged two to three landfalling hurricanes in the continental United States, and one to two hurricanes in the region around the Caribbean Sea.

In a nutshell, this season is once again expected to be rather active, said Jeff Orrock, severe weather warning coordinator with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

Homeland Security Undersecretary Michael Brown said, "Last year three tropical storms and three hurricanes affected the United States. Hurricane Isabel caused 17 deaths and more than $3 billion in damages. We cannot stop these storms, but we can take steps to limit our vulnerability. Awareness and preparedness for hurricanes, and even tropical storms, and knowing what to do to mitigate their devastating effects, are our best defense."

Last year, Hurricane Isabel came ashore in North Carolina, causing major property damage near and along the coast and bringing strong winds and heavy rains further inland.

May 16-22 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week.