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Sat May 23, 2020, 08:35 AM

1 Week Before Hurricane Season, NOAA Gives 60% Chance Of Busier Than Normal Cycle

The coming Atlantic hurricane season is “expected to be a busy one,” with the likelihood of as many as 19 named storms, including as many as six major hurricanes, a federal weather scientist said Thursday. That worrisome forecast could be further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is hobbling relief agencies and could turn evacuation shelters into disease hot spots.

Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane season forecaster with the climate prediction center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, delivered the forecast as part of the annual announcement of the agency’s hurricane season outlook. In the probabilistic language the agency uses to describe the season ahead, there is a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, and just a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. Agency scientists also estimated a 70 percent chance of between 13 to 19 named storms. Of those, NOAA predicted between three and six would be major hurricanes.

In an average hurricane season there are 12 named storms (those with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher) and three major hurricanes (when winds reach 111 m.p.h. or more). The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30, though the emergence of Tropical Storm Arthur this month made this the sixth year in a row in which a named storm has slipped in before the official beginning of the season.

During the call with reporters to announce the forecast, Carlos J. Castillo, acting deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the coronavirus pandemic could add to the challenges of the season.



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