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Hurricane season begins today

By Staff
Special to
The Advance
This year's hurricane season officially begins today and hurricane experts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations are predicting the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season will likely have above normal levels of activity.
The outlook calls for the potential of 11 to 15 tropical storms, with six to nine hurricanes, and two to four classified as major hurricanes (category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale). Officials from NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency advised residents in Atlantic and Gulf Coast states to be prepared throughout the season, which runs June 1 through Nov. 30. In the central Pacific, NOAA hurricane experts forecast two to three tropical storms; this is slightly less than the long-term average of 4.5 tropical storms per season.
Recognizing the damaging and potentially deadly effects of the tropical storms and hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico each year, President George W. Bush signed a proclamation announcing May 18 -24 as National Hurricane Awareness Week. At a news conference aimed at increasing public awareness of the upcoming hurricane season, officials from NOAA and FEMA described the anticipated level of hurricane activity this season, interagency coordination efforts to help mitigate the consequences of a land falling hurricane and the importance of taking steps to prepare families and communities in advance.
James R. Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator said, "This year the Atlantic hurricane outlook calls for a 55 percent chance of an above normal season, a 35 percent chance of near normal, and only a 10 percent chance for a below-normal season such as last year."
In his proclamation, President Bush encourages families along coastlines to take steps today that can save lives and minimize property damage through planning and preparation.