STATE COLLEGE, PA, May 15, 2006-The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center, led by Chief Forecaster Joe Bastardi, today released its 2006 hurricane season forecast. An active hurricane season appears imminent, which could have major repercussions for the U.S. economy and the one in six Americans who live on the Eastern Seaboard or along the western Gulf of Mexico.
For the 2006 Hurricane Season-which traditionally runs from June 1 through November 30-Bastardi and his team are forecasting that six tropical cyclones will make landfall in the U.S. Five of these landfalling storms are likely to be hurricanes, with three being major hurricanes of Category 3 or greater.
"The 2006 season will be a creeping threat," said Bastardi. "Early in the season-June and July-the Texas Gulf Coast faces the highest likelihood of a hurricane strike, possibly putting Gulf energy production in the line of fire. As early as July, and through much of the rest of the season, the highest level of risk shifts to the Carolinas. From mid-August into early October, the window is open for hurricane strikes to spread northward to the more densely populated Northeast coast. At the very end of the season, southern Florida also faces significant hurricane risk."
"There are few areas of the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico that will not be in the bull's eye at some point this season," said Ken Reeves, AccuWeather's Director of Forecast Operations. Ironically, though, the region that was hammered the hardest last year-the central and eastern Gulf Coast-has one of the lower probabilities of receiving another major hurricane strike in 2006."
Added Reeves, "This is not to say that hard-hit New Orleans has nothing to worry about. Because the city's defenses have been so compromised by Hurricane Katrina, even a glancing blow from a hurricane elsewhere could spell trouble for the city."
Hurricane Predictions Off Track As Tranquil Season Wafts Away
By NEIL JOHNSON The Tampa Tribune
Published: Nov 27, 2006
It was not the hurricane season we expected, thank you.
With cataclysmic predictions that hurricanes would swarm from the tropics like termites, no one thought 2006 would be the most tranquil season in a decade.
Barring a last-second surprise from the tropics, the season will end Thursday with nine named storms, and only five of those hurricanes. This year is the first season since 1997 that only one storm nudged its way into the Gulf of Mexico.
Still, Florida was hit by two tropical storms, Alberto and Ernesto. But after the pummeling of the previous two years, the storms barely registered on the public's radar.
So what happened? Lots.
Storms were starved for fuel after ingesting masses of dry Saharan dust and air over the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists say the storm-snuffing dust was more abundant than usual this year.
In the season's peak, storms were curving right like errant field goals. High pressure that normally hunkers near Bermuda shifted far eastward, and five storms rode the clockwise winds away from Florida.
Finally, a rapidly growing El Nino, a warming of water over the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifted winds high in the atmosphere southward. The winds left developing storms disheveled and unable to become organized.
As they say about the stock market: Past results are no indication of future performance.
This year's uneventful season provides no assurance that next year will be as calm:
•The Atlantic remains in a 20- to 30-year cycle of high hurricane activity that started in 1995. Water temperatures are above normal.
•El Nino probably won't be around to decapitate storms.
•There's no promise that the Saharan dust will be as abundant.
BY THE NUMBERS
9: The number of named storms this year
17: The number of named storms predicted May 31 by a team at Colorado State University led by Professor William Gray
45 mph: The wind speed when Tropical Storm Alberto hit the Florida Panhandle near Adams Beach on June 13, the strongest winds over Florida all season
56 percent: The average homeowner rate increase Citizens Property Insurance Corp. requested even after no hurricanes struck Florida
27 percent: The Citizens rate increase approved to start Jan. 1
$100 million: Estimated damage in the United States from Tropical Storm Ernesto
0: The number of storms that formed in October, the first time since 2002 that no storms formed that month. Also, no Category 4 or 5 storms formed this year for the first time since 1997.