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Batten Down the Hatches: Another Bad Hurricane Season Is on Its Way

Forecasters are predicting a hurricane season even more active than last year's

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When hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast it wasn’t actually considered a hurricane anymore. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

Mother Nature is unrelenting. Earlier in the week, Oklahoma saw one of the most costly tornadoes of all time. Then came word that not only is this year supposed to be another awful year for forest fires, but that forest fires are supposed to grow ever larger in the coming decades. Now, NOAA is forecasting an awful Atlantic hurricane season for the coming year.

For the East coast, hurricane season kicks off at the beginning of June and runs through November. Within this period, says the Associated Press, NOAA’s forecasters are expecting seven to 11 hurricanes, three to six of which will be big hurricanes. The total call is for 13 to 20 named storms, which includes hurricanes and the weaker tropical storms.

This expectation, of seven to 11 hurricanes, means this season could be more active than last year’s. In 2012, the Atlantic U.S. saw 10 hurricanes, with two of them being classed as major storms. A normal year, says the AP, has six hurricanes and three major storms. The AP:

This year, all the factors that go into hurricane forecasts are pointing to an active season, or an extremely active one, said lead forecaster Gerry Bell of the Climate Prediction Center.

Those factors include: warmer than average ocean waters that provide fuel for storms, a multi-decade pattern of increased hurricane activity, the lack of an El Nino warming of the central Pacific Ocean, and an active pattern of storm systems coming off west Africa.

The Atlantic hurricane season goes through cycles of high and low activity about every 25 to 40 years based on large scale climatic patterns in the atmosphere. A high activity period started around 1995, Sullivan said.

“What NOAA could not say was how many of these storms would make landfall,” says Climate Central. “That level of prediction is beyond the level of current science.”

The names for this year’s hurricane season have already been picked. Look for tropical cyclone Andrea in an Atlantic Ocean near you.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Watch Out: This Year’s Fire Season Will Be Another Bad One for the West
Why We May Not See the Next Sandy Coming
Watch All of 2012′s Hurricanes in One Video

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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