The 2010 Hurricane Season has been predicted to be an abnormally “active” season for the Atlantic Basin. Officially, the season began on June 1 and will run through Nov 30.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has project that this season has a strong chance of producing the following:
- 14 to 23 named storms (winds of 39 mph and higher)
- 8 to 14 of those becoming hurricanes (winds of 74 mph and higher)
- 3 to 7 of those becoming major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph and higher)
A normal season has an average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Already, the southern portion of the Gulf Coast has experienced a Category 2 Hurricane with Hurricane Alex. June is not typically a month in which strong hurricanes are produced. This is because the temperature of the ocean has not reached their warmest peak so early in the summer, which is why we see more storms occurring in August and September.
However, this year several factors are contributing to the increased activity in the Atlantic Basin.
- Upper atmospheric winds are conducive for storms – Strong vertical winds, called vertical wind shears, typically break up tropical cyclones because the winds are pushing cool air down into the cyclone which relies on warm air and water to fuel and strengthen a storm. Currently, these wind shears are lighter than normal preventing cool air from breaking up storms in the Atlantic Basin.
- Warm Atlantic Ocean water – For the past several months, the NOAA has recorded temperatures above normal. Currently, the water is at record warm temperatures, as much as four degrees Fahrenheit above average.
- Continuation of tropical multi-decadal signal – From 1995 to 2009, key aspects have included below-average sea-level pressure, warmer ocean temperatures, reduced wind shears, a weakening El Nino and a certain configuration of the African easterly jet. According to the NOAA, eight of the last 15 seasons rank in the top ten most active hurricane seasons.
With these oceanic and atmospheric conditions, coupled with the activity that has already occurred this season, it is important to begin taking steps now to be prepared in the eventuality that a hurricane hit the United States coastline. The Texas Department of State Health Services has created a website for residents and businesses to help create plans and checklists, outline where to go in the event that evacuation is necessary and tips on the important items to take with you during an emergency situation. These tips can be found at www.texasprepares.org.
You can’t control when a hurricane or other natural disaster will strike. However, by planning effectively, you can save time and stress in the long run.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA Expects Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100527_hurricaneoutlook.html. Accessed July 7, 2010.