Thursday, May 21, 2009

Forecasters to make predictions about 2009 hurricane season

Forecasters to make predictions about 2009 hurricane season

Top federal weather forecasters on Thursday will be announcing their eagerly anticipated predictions for this year's Atlantic hurricane season -- a season likely to be as active as last year.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others will make their forecast public at a news conference to be held at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in northern Virginia.

On hand will be Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and Bill Read, NOAA's National Hurricane Center director, along with a host of other federal officials.

Government forecasters were right on the mark with their 2008 predictions -- a very active hurricane season. The numbers: 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, five of them major.

Scientists had projected that the 2008 season would bring 12 to 16 named storms that would grow into six to nine hurricanes, two to five of which would be Category 3 or stronger.

Gerry Bell, NOAA's lead seasonal Atlantic hurricane forecaster, has said the gradual warming of the Atlantic Ocean, combined with an active tropical era of storms that began in 1995, will likely mean busy hurricane seasons in the future.

Florida was spared the worst of last year's hurricane season. Only Tropical Storm Fay struck the region hard.

That was not the case for our Caribbean neighbors. Cuba and Haiti got pounded by a succession of major hurricanes and storms, resulting in heavy damage and lost lives.

Feel free to prepare for storm

By John Lowman
The Facts
Published May 20, 2009

LAKE JACKSON — Emergency planners are preparing themselves for the possibility of another hurricane striking close to home, and they encourage area residents to take advantage of a free opportunity to do the same.

The annual “Perfect Storm” hurricane preparedness seminar will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Lake Jackson Civic Center, Brazoria County Emergency Management Coordinator Kenneth “Doc” Adams said. This year’s event is themed “Lessons Learned from Ike” after Hurricane Ike blasted the area last September, causing billions of dollars in damage from Brazoria County to Sabine Pass.

One of the main focuses is being prepared, Adams said.

“Some of the people who evacuated suffered hardships last year they would not have had to suffer if they’d have read our brochure,” Adams said of a booklet set to be mailed to all county residents. “If they’d have taken a few minutes and looked at it, they would have been much better prepared.”

That is the reason for the seminar, Brazoria County Marine Extension Agent Rich Tillman said.

“We want to protect lives and property,” Tillman said. “Since we’re right on the coast, everybody in Brazoria County is vulnerable to some extent.”

Two of the three 2-1-1 evacuation hubs in the county are moved. The former Alvin location this year will be at Dawson High School in Pearland, while the Angleton hub will be at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds. The West Columbia site remains at the West Columbia Civic Center.


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