The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
has predicted that La Nina - a cooling of ocean waters that
generally brings a more active Atlantic hurricane season - will be
absent for the next two months.
But don't get rid of those disaster kits just yet.
The absence of La Nina doesn't necessarily herald a tame summer
for tropical storms and hurricanes, said Dennis Feltgen,
meteorologist and spokesman for NOAA in Miami.
"There are so many other ingredients that contribute to the
development of tropical cyclones, it's not just the fact that we
don't have a La Nina that comes into play here," Feltgen said.
Hurricane season 2005 was a textbook example of this. La Nina
wasn't around, but the season managed to break records, with 28
named storms, including 15 hurricanes, seven of which were major.
La Nina is the counterpart to the better known El Nino, a
warming of Pacific waters near the equator that creates a less
conducive environment for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic. These
duo water conditions are hard to predict long-term and don't follow
This year, forecasters have predicted an above-average hurricane
season, which runs June 1 through November. They believe there will
be 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to 10 of them becoming
hurricanes and three to five of those reaching at least Category 3
Part of the reason behind this, Feltgen said, is that we're in
an active hurricane cycle - a phenomenon of heightened activity
that can last for decades. The last one spanned the 1940s through
1960s. The current one started in 1995 and could last for another
decade, Feltgen said.
"So all things being equal, we expect an above average number
of cyclones," he added. "Be prepared."
There have been two named storms in 2007: Subtropical Storm
Andrea, which formed in May, and Tropical Storm Barry, which formed
June 1, the first day of hurricane season.
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