No La Nina in summer, but active hurricane season expected

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

regular patterns.

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.