Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean began June first. Alberto will be the first named Atlantic hurricane in 2006. Paul Sisco reports on what forecasters are saying about the prospects for Alberto and others this season.
The hurricane season in the Atlantic basin officially runs from June first through the end of November. If this year is anything like last? it could continue longer than that.
Some Americans are still suffering from Katrina, the worst hurricane of the worst season for hurricanes in recorded history. Katrina has claimed more than 1200 lives and damage costs have climbed to over $80 billion.
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, are expecting another above normal hurricane season, with 13 to 16 named storms, eight to ten hurricanes and four to six major hurricanes. But NOAA does not expect a repeat of last year's record season.
Max Mayfield is the chief forecaster at the National Hurricane Center. "It's very tempting to focus on the numbers of storms and hurricanes. I'd just like to please remind you that it is not all about numbers, it just takes one hurricane over your community to make a bad year."
Predictions are based on warm sea surface temperatures, and slow wind patterns: conditions over the Atlantic that favor hurricanes.
NOAA administrator Conrad Lautenbacher: "Although we don't anticipate reaching or exceeding last years extraordinary tally of storms, NOAA is predicting an above average hurricane season, and four to six of those hurricanes are predicted to become major. (at category 3 strength or higher)."
National Hurricane Center, Director, Max Mayfield, says, "If there is anything good that can come out of the last hurricane season, and that's pretty hard to find, I hope its the motivation to help create a culture of preparedness."
Local leaders are distributing evacuation plans and maps.
Public service announcements are being broadcast:
Homeowners and businesses are preparing as best they can. State and federal agencies say the first emergency response is up to the public, although they are stockpiling all sort of necessities, and in New Orleans the Army Corps of Engineers reports it has nearly completed rebuilding and reinforcing storm gates damaged by Hurricane Katrina last year.