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US Weather Service Predicts 2012 Hurricane Activity in Three Regions

  • Laurel Bowman

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA is predicting a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins and a below-normal season in the Central Pacific.

Many residents of the U.S. Atlantic coast head into this year’s hurricane season, which starts June 1, with still-vivid recollections of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. The 2008 storm flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

And this August marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, the category-5 hurricane that devastated South Florida, causing more than 26 billion dollars in damage.

The National Weather Service's Chris Vaccaro says Andrew's lesson is: be ready.

“Hurricane Andrew was the first storm in a very late-starting season that only produced 6 storms,” Vaccaro said.

The season average is 12 named storms. NOAA forecasters laid out their predictions Thursday for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season for the region covering the Eastern and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. as well as Caribbean nations.

"A near-normal season is likely, with a total of 9 to 15 named storms.//One to three are likely to form major hurricanes -- category 3,4 or 5,” said Robert Dietrick, with NOAA.

This prediction shows less activity than in recent years, but NOAA forecasters expect to see a continuation of overall conditions associated with the high-activity era that began in 1995.

Judy Curry, who chairs the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech University, said this increased activity in the Atlantic could last another decade. “We have been lucky in the last few years because a lot of the biggest storms have simply fizzled out in the open ocean without striking land,” she said.

Curry also expects continued high activity in the North Indian Ocean. That tropical storm season starts up again in September. She says the region is especially vulnerable. “One of the problems is that in this part of the world you don’t get very good tropical cyclone warnings you get maybe two days," she said.

Not enough time to save the more than 100,000 people who perished in tropical cyclone Nargis, which passed over Burma in 2008.

NOAA’S hurricane outlook for the Eastern Pacific basin, covering Mexico and Central America, is for a near-normal season. And the Central Pacific Basin, which includes Hawaii, is expected to have a below-normal hurricane season.
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