NOAA Predicts Oncoming Hurricane Seasons

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last Thursday their predictions for the upcoming hurricane seasons for the Eastern Pacific, Atlantic, and Central Pacific regions, and if their predictions hold up, it could be a very normal season.

Eastern Pacific

The outlook calls for a 50 percent probability of a near-normal season, a 30 percent probability of a below-normal season and a 20 percent probability of an above-normal season. Seasonal hurricane forecasters estimate a 70 percent chance of 12 to 18 named storms, which includes 5 to 9 hurricanes, of which 2 to 5 are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

“The eastern Pacific has gotten off to a busy and early start of the season, with Tropical Storm Aletta last week and Hurricane Bud churning off the Mexican coast this week,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, part of the U.S. National Weather Service.

“NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook gives people an idea of how the season will likely unfold so they will be prepared and equipped to respond when disaster strikes. Despite our predictions, it only takes one hurricane to cause a lot of damage and loss of life if people aren’t prepared.”


For the entire six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70 percent chance of 9 to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will likely strengthen to become hurricanes (with top winds of 74 mph or higher). And, of those, one to three will likely become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5). Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

“NOAA’s outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years,” said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. “But regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.”

Central Pacific

The 2012 outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 20 percent chance of an above-normal season. Forecasters expect 2-4 tropical cyclones in the Central Pacific this season. An average season has 4-5 tropical cyclones, which include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

“Despite the forecast for a below-normal season, we encourage everyone to get prepared for the start of the season and stay on top of the forecasts as storms develop,” said Ray Tanabe, director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center – part of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “We’ve had two quiet seasons in a row here in the Central Pacific, but don’t let your guard down. We should all be weather-ready this and every season.”

This information was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. More information can be found for each region — Eastern Pacific, Atlantic, Central Pacific — including methodology and further quotes from the relevant hurricane prediction centres.

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