NOAA 2004-061
Contact: Carmeyia Gillis

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Below-Normal to Near-Normal Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Expected

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane experts announced the second year of an experimental Eastern Pacific Hurricane Outlook. The prediction indicates a 45 percent probability of a below-normal eastern Pacific hurricane season during 2004, a 45 percent probability of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The growing capacity of the NOAA Weather Service to forecast the severity of the Eastern Pacific’s hurricane season fills me with hope for the future. The road has not been an easy one, but I am pleased and proud that I have done my best to support NOAA along this journey," said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. "Long range forecasting products save communities, businesses and above all human life. Equally important, the scientific inquiry and the data collection and management that make such forecasts possible pave the way toward an increasingly sophisticated understanding of both Pacific and global climate patterns.

The outlook calls for 13-15 tropical storms (average is 15) to form in the eastern Pacific during 2004, with 6-8 becoming hurricanes (average is 9), and 2-4 becoming major hurricanes (average is 4-5). Major hurricanes are categories 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

“NOAA’s 2004 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Outlook is important to people in the southwestern U.S. and parts of Mexico because a suppressed season reduces the likelihood of rain from these systems, especially in Arizona, California, New Mexico, western Texas and Baja California,” said Jim Laver, director the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. “Parts of these areas are already suffering from moderate to severe drought.”

One of the major climate phenomena affecting eastern Pacific hurricane activity is the El Niño/Southern Oscillation phenomenon. NOAA scientists expect a continuation of ENSO neutral conditions through August (no El Niño or La Niña).

“Eastern Pacific hurricane activity varies considerably from one year to the next. Much of this variability is caused by ENSO. ENSO neutral conditions or La Niña favor normal to below-normal hurricane seasons, while El Niño favors above-normal seasons,” said CPC’s Dr. Muthuvel Chelliah, lead forecaster for the outlook.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season officially runs from May 15 through Nov. 30. The normal seasonal peak in activity occurs between July 1 and Sept. 30.

This is the second year of NOAA’s Experimental Hurricane Outlook for the eastern Pacific region, which covers the north Pacific Ocean east of 140 ° west. This forecast is expected to become an operational NWS product beginning next year with the 2005 hurricane season. The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Outlook is a product of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, the NOAA Hurricane Research Division and the NOAA National Hurricane Center.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

"We will never control nature’s fury, but our investment in NOAA will allow us to build communities with the resilience necessary to spring back quickly from hurricane disasters,” said Sen. Inouye.

On the Web:

Eastern Pacific Hurricane Outlook:

NOAA Central Pacific Hurricane Center:

NOAA Climate Prediction Center: