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NOAA Predicts Near-normal Or Below-normal Hurricane Season

Hurricane Fran September 5th, 1996. One of several hurricanes that impacted the North Carolina coast in the late 1990's.

NOAA : May 22nd, 2014 - In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued May 22, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.
The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.
The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.  For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
“Thanks to the environmental intelligence from NOAA’s network of earth observations, our scientists and meteorologists can provide life-saving products like our new storm surge threat map and our hurricane forecasts,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “And even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it’s important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster."
Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said the Atlantic – which has seen above-normal seasons in 12 of the last 20 years – has been in an era of high activity for hurricanes since 1995. However, this high-activity pattern is expected to be offset in 2014 by the impacts of El Niño, and by cooler Atlantic Ocean temperatures than we’ve seen in recent years.
“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the tropical Pacific are already taking on some El Niño characteristics. Also, we are currently seeing strong trade winds and wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, and NOAA’s climate models predict these conditions will persist, in part because of El Niño,” Bell said. “The expectation of near-average Atlantic Ocean temperatures this season, rather than the above-average temperatures seen since 1995, also suggests fewer Atlantic hurricanes.”
NOAA is rolling out new tools at the National Hurricane Center this year. An experimental mapping tool will be used to show communities their storm surge flood threat. The map will be issued for coastal areas when a hurricane or tropical storm watch is first issued, or approximately 48 hours before the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. The map will show land areas where storm surge could occur and how high above ground the water could reach in those areas.
Early testing on continued improvements to NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model (HWRF) shows a 10 percent improvement in this year's model compared to last year. Hurricane forecasters use the HWRF along with other models to produce forecasts and issue warnings.  The HWRF model is being adopted by a number of Western Pacific and Indian Ocean rim nations.
 NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook is not a hurricane landfall forecast; it does not predict how many storms will hit land or where a storm will strike. Forecasts for individual storms and their impacts will be provided throughout the season by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.
"It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall to have disastrous impacts on our communities," said Joe Nimmich, FEMA associate administrator for Response and Recovery. "Just last month, Pensacola, Florida saw five inches of rain in 45 minutes – without a tropical storm or hurricane. We need you to be ready. Know your risk for hurricanes and severe weather, take action now to be prepared and be an example for others in your office, school or community. Learn more about how to prepare for hurricanes at"
Next week, May 25-31, is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. To help those living in hurricane-prone areas prepare, NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements in both English and Spanish, featuring NOAA hurricane experts and the FEMA Administrator at
NOAA’s outlook for the Eastern Pacific basin is for a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season, and the Central Pacific basin is also expected to have a near-normal or above-normal season. NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.

Governor Proclaims Hurricane Preparedness Week
Urges Residents to Update Emergency Kits and Plans

While many think of Memorial Day weekend as the beginning of summer, Governor Pat McCrory is reminding residents that it is also the kickoff of Hurricane Preparedness Week. The governor is encouraging everyone to update their emergency plans and supply kits. Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through November.
“No part of the state is immune from a hurricane’s impacts,” Governor McCrory said. “Don’t mistakenly believe that these storms threaten only our coast. Residents who lived through Hurricanes Hugo, Floyd, Frances and Ivan can testify that these storms have the potential to devastate all parts of our state.”
Governor McCrory noted this year marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Floyd and the 10th anniversary of Tropical Storms Frances and Ivan.
“We remember how powerful and devastating those storms were for our families, businesses and communities,” Governor McCrory continued. “Those who take a few moments now to discuss their emergency plans and assemble or update those supply kits will have peace of mind and be better prepared to survive a storm and recover from it.”
Hugo struck Charleston, S.C. Sept. 22, 1989 as a Category 4 hurricane then moved north carving a path of destruction through nearly a third of the state. The $1 billion storm claimed seven lives in North Carolina.
Floyd made landfall at Cape Fear on Sept. 16, 1999 but the tropical storm-force winds spanned nearly 600 miles making it one of the largest Atlantic storms on record. The Category 2 hurricane brought torrential rains to areas saturated by Hurricane Dennis two weeks prior and caused severe flooding in two thirds of the state’s counties. The storm destroyed more than 7,000 homes, claimed 52 lives and caused $5.5 billion in damages.
Tropical Depression Frances dumped up to 15 inches of rain in the mountains Sept. 7, 2004 causing significant damages in 34 counties. A week later, Tropical Storm Ivan drenched the mountains again with more than a foot of rain, causing landslides and severe flooding in 29 western counties and claiming eight lives.
Governor McCrory urged families, businesses and local governments to assemble emergency supply kits, then make and rehearse plans for where to go and what to do if a hurricane threatens the state. The kit should contain enough non-perishable food and a gallon of water per person per day to last three to seven days. Other essential items include:
• Copies of insurance papers and identification sealed in a watertight plastic bag
• First-aid kit
• Weather radio and batteries
• Supply of prescription medicines
• Sleeping bag or blankets
• Changes of clothes
• Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant
• Cash or checkbook
• Pet supplies including food, water, leashes, bedding, muzzle and vaccination records
• Residents also are encouraged to review and update their homeowners' or renters’ insurance policies now to make sure they include coverage for accidental damage, natural disasters and, if necessary, flood insurance.
People should stay informed during a storm by keeping a battery-powered radio for weather and evacuation information and should know evacuation routes in their community. They also need to heed the warnings of state and local officials and evacuate quickly when told to do so.
More information on hurricanes and overall emergency preparedness can be found on the ReadyNC mobile app and online at
Residents can evacuate their homes with their small, domestic pets to specially designated pet-friendly shelters. Pet shelters will be equipped with pet crates, but people should bring feeding dishes, food and water, immunization papers and other pet supplies.
“While North Carolina is better prepared today than it was 15 or 25 years ago, we are not immune from any storm’s impacts,” said N.C. Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. “It’s critical that people prepare themselves and their families for emergencies because during those first few days after a massive disaster, you may be on your own until responders can reach you and water, power and other essential services can be restored.” 
Secretary Perry said that hurricane veterans may mistakenly focus on the storm category and dismiss the threat for lower-level storms.
“The most dangerous threat from hurricanes is flooding and storm surge,” said Secretary Perry. “As many of our residents have experienced in the past year, the storm doesn’t even have to be classified as a tropical system to cause serious damage."