NOAA 2002-101
Contact: Carmeyia Gillis
NOAA News Releases 2002
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As the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season nears its peak period, NOAA’s hurricane forecasters today said they expect seven to 10 tropical storms, of which four to six could develop into hurricanes, with one to three classified as major (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale.) The total expected activity falls in the normal, to below-normal range, and indicates a low probability of an above-average season.

NOAA forecasters also cautioned residents living along the East and Gulf coasts to prepare for possible land-falling storms. “We want people to understand that it only takes one hurricane, or tropical storm, to bring death and destruction,” said Jim Laver, director of the Climate Prediction Center, which is a part of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

The hurricane season peak period lasts from mid-August through October. The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

Since the May hurricane season outlook, Laver said El Niño has strengthened, and is now expected to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity. “El Niño is expected to last at least into early 2003,” he said, adding the climate phenomenon will be a weaker version of the powerful El Niño of 1997-98. “As El Niño matures, it is expected to first impact the Atlantic hurricane season in late September and October, then U.S. temperatures and precipitation in the fall and winter,” Laver said.

At NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, forecasters have tracked
three named storms so far, including Tropical Storm Cristobal now churning in the open Atlantic. Max Mayfield, the center’s director, said residents must remain vigilant for the worst.

Hurricane Andrew, one of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, happened in a season with below-average activity, and 10 years later, there are some areas of south Florida that will never be the same,” Mayfield said. “This is not the time to let down our guard,” he added.

NOAA released both its monthly El Niño report and mid-season Atlantic hurricane outlook today.

The El Niño Diagnostic Discussion is a team effort consisting of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, Climate Diagnostic Center, National Climatic Data Center, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction. NOAA’s National Weather Service will continue to monitor the developments of El Nino and Atlantic hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season outlook is a joint effort of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, Hurricane Research Division and National Hurricane Center.

The Climate Prediction Center and the National Hurricane Center are part of NOAA's National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA Weather Service operates the most advanced flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property, and enhance the national economy.