FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Frank Lepore
This year's Atlantic hurricane season will bring more tropical storms, hurricanes and intense hurricanes than usual, say scientists in the first hurricane outlook ever released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the beginning of the June-November season.
The outlook says there are increased chances for greater-than-average hurricane activity and three or more intense storms. A normal Atlantic hurricane season includes nine to 10 tropical storms, of which five to six are hurricanes and two are classified as intense hurricanes.
"The potential for economic catastrophe in coastal cities and towns has increased dramatically in recent years because more and more people are moving to the coasts," said Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley, who oversees NOAA. "In addition, hurricanes threaten inland communities with strong winds, floods, heavy rains, and hurricane-spawned tornadoes. These conditions threaten life and property, and can take a severe economic toll on the local and national economy. It is imperative that local residents and businesses be prepared to protect themselves and their property."
"The intensified hurricane activity may be influenced in part by a lingering La Niña episode, which our scientists expect to continue at its current strength through the hurricane season, and which could help maintain conditions favoring increasing hurricane activity," said D. James Baker, NOAA administrator. La Niña refers to cooler-than-average sea-surface temperatures across the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, which historically have contributed to a greater number of hurricanes in the Atlantic during a given season.
In June, all National Weather Service forecast offices will be fully upgraded with advanced interactive computer systems, a centerpiece of the $4.5 billion modernization program that has been a priority of the Clinton Administration. The modernization also includes new technologies such as Doppler radars, satellites, and a state-of-the-art hurricane surveillance jet.
"The increased capabilities provided
by these technologies enable us to better
Kelly said one of the best ways to get official National Weather Service warnings and severe weather information instantly is through NOAA Weather Radio. The newest models of these special radio receivers can be programmed to sound an alarm when dangerous weather for your area is imminent.
With increased potential for catastrophic property damage and loss of life along the coasts, it has become even more important for federal, state and local governments, individuals and local businesses to take preventative actions. Programs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities have helped communities better prepare for hurricane season. Through this effort, both the public and private sectors are beginning to take greater responsibility for their lives and property during natural disasters.
"Through this key partnership, we are using advancing technology to reduce the impact of hurricanes and other natural disasters," said FEMA Director James Lee Witt. "FEMA is encouraging communities to take action now to prevent possible damage and to reduce losses that might occur this hurricane season. I've seen too many homes and businesses rebuilt after a hurricane with materials I knew couldn't withstand the next one."
Last year, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued its first-ever Atlantic hurricane outlook in early August, to indicate whether the remaining season would bring increased, lessened, or normal activity. The scientists accurately predicted that there would be an above-normal number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic between August and October, the busiest period of the hurricane season.
The 1998 Atlantic hurricane season brought 14 tropical cycles, including three major hurricanes. These storms inflicted $7.3 billion in damages and 23 fatalities in the United States alone.
NOAA will issue another outlook in August, which will update the outlook released today.
Further information about hurricanes can be found at http://hurricanes.noaa.gov. The 1999 Hurricane Outlook can be found at: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov. Information about FEMA and its programs can be found at: http://www.FEMA.gov.