NOAA: chances for above normal hurricane season increase

Staff writer

While the peak of hurricane season is weeks away, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said the chances of a normal or above normal hurricane season have increased.

NOAA expects between 10 and 17 named storms with five to nine hurricanes, according to a National Weather Service news release. Of the hurricanes, two to four are expected to be major hurricanes of Category 3 and higher with winds stronger than 111 miles per hour. There have been two named storms so far this year.

Hurricane forecasters predict there’s a 45% chance the season will be above normal, a 35% chance the season will be about normal and a 20% chance it will be below-normal.

The reason for the increased chance of an above normal season: A series of complex weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean called El Nino have ended, according to NOAA. El Nino is part of an oscillating weather pattern that can bring warmer-than-normal temperatures to parts of North America, more precipitation than normal over the Gulf Coast and less precipitation over the Ohio Valley. While El Nino generally occurs in the Indian and Pacific oceans, it can influence weather patterns across the world, including reducing the amount of activity in the Atlantic hurricane season.

Additionally, as the hurricane season hits its peak in September, forecasters are keeping an eye on another weather pattern called the Madden-Julian Oscillation that is expected to bring tropical rainfall, winds and atmospheric pressure to the Atlantic Ocean, according to National Weather Service at Wakefield meteorologist-in-charge Jeff Orrock.

The combination of peak hurricane season, the end of El Nino and the return of a tropical weather pattern all play into the increased chance of a more violent hurricane season.

The season started June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

Prepare early

» Get an emergency kit with non-perishable food items, water for two weeks, personal hygiene products and batteries for flashlights and radios. For more information on what to pack, go to bit.ly/VaHurricanePrep

» Know the evacuation zone of your home and workplace. Evacuation zones can be found at KnowYourZoneVA.org

» Have a seven-day supply of medications for you and your pets, extra cash and copies of important documents such as insurance policies. For more information on vital records, go to bit.ly/VaVitalRecords. For more information on how to prepare your pets, go to bit.ly/VaHurricanePrepPets.

» Stay informed through local media and monitor social media channels from VDEM, VDOT and local emergency management agencies.

» Virginia Natural Gas recommends leaving an area immediately if you smell a rotten-egg odor. Avoid certain electronic devices that may ignite natural gas and know where your natural gas meter is located.

»If there is any damage to a natural gas line or meter at your home, call the Virginia Natural Gas emergency response hotline at 1-877-572-3342 or call 911.

»Never go near downed power lines. To report and check power outages, go to bit.ly/VaPowerOutages.

For general hurricane information and more tips on how to be prepared, visit vaemergency.gov. Problems with flooding, downed trees or road hazards should be reported at my.vdot.virginia.gov.

For information on hurricanes, go to nhc.noaa.gov

Steve Roberts Jr, srobertsjr@vagazette.com, 757-604-1329, @SPRobertsJr.

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