Atlantic faces ‘extraordinary’ hurricane season: NOAA

El Salvador declares state of emergency over Tropical Storm Pilar
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The North Atlantic hurricane season, beginning June 1, is forecast to be “extraordinary,” with up to seven storms of Category 3 or higher expected, according to the US NOAA weather agency.

Category 3 hurricanes, with wind speeds over 111 miles (178 kilometers) per hour, cause severe damage to homes, uproot trees, and often result in prolonged power and water outages.

“This season is looking to be an extraordinary one in a number of ways,” said Rick Spinrad of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who cited warm Atlantic ocean temperatures and conditions related to the La Niña weather phenomenon in the Pacific as reasons for the expected increase in storms.

The agency noted that human-caused climate change is warming oceans and melting ice, causing sea level rises that worsen storm surges.

“The forecast for named storms — hurricanes and major hurricanes — is the highest NOAA has ever issued for the May outlook,” Spinrad said. “It only takes one storm to devastate a community.”

According to NOAA, between 17 and 25 named storms with winds over 39 miles per hour could develop, including eight to 13 forecast to reach hurricane strength.

“It’s reason to be concerned of course, but not alarmed,” said National Weather Service director Ken Graham, urging Americans to prepare for potential storms.

The Saffir-Simpson wind scale categorizes hurricanes from Category 1, with wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour, to Category 5, with winds of 157 mph or higher.

The North Atlantic hurricane season runs from early June to late November.

Oceanic heat in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea generates more energy for stronger storms, which can have devastating human and material impacts, particularly in the US South.

Hurricane Ian, which struck Florida in September 2022, caused 152 deaths and $112.9 billion in losses.

Scientists are warning of exceptional heat buildup in the Atlantic in recent months, a condition that is also harmful to coral.

La Niña in the Pacific generally leads to a more intense hurricane season in the Atlantic, and the chance of La Niña forming between August and October is about 77 percent, Spinrad said.

The opposing weather phenomenon El Niño was present last year, which tended to moderate hurricane activity in the North Atlantic.

Astrid Caldas, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, emphasized the need for coastal communities to remain vigilant.

“The fun-filled summer season has increasingly become a time of dread for the dangers that await,” she said. “Reining in heat-trapping emissions driving the climate crisis is… essential.”


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Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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