Satellites and Supercomputers Say 6 to 10 Hurricanes Coming

U.S. scientists predict a stormy season; new satellites and simulations coming too

4 min read
Satellites and Supercomputers Say 6 to 10 Hurricanes Coming

1 June 2011—The clouds spat out an intermittent drizzle of rain—the kind of halfhearted shower that no one could have predicted—as Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stood outside of NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility and revealed the North American hurricane season forecast for 2011. "NOAA’s forecast team is calling for an above-normal season this year," Lubchenco intoned gravely.

This hurricane season, which begins today and runs through the end of November, is likely to produce 6 to 10 hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, Lubchenco said. Of those storms, 3 to 6 are expected to become major hurricanes, rated Category 3 or above, with sustained winds stronger than 179 kilometers per hour. In other words, Lubchenco told the assembled reporters and TV cameras, coastal communities should get ready, because NOAA forecasts typically come to pass. Last year’s outlook was "amazingly accurate," said Lubchenco. NOAA predicted 8 to 14 hurricanes, with 3 to 7 biggies, and that’s what North America got: 5 major hurricanes out of 12 overall. "It just blew my mind," said Lubchenco. "So we know we’re getting pretty good at making the outlook."

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