Press Release

| home | tools | pleas for help | QHWRN | guide | climatology | archive

"Atlantic Hurricane Season Off with a Whimper"
(Source: Reuters, 6/1/01)

MIAMI - The 2001 Atlantic hurricane season dawned quietly on Friday but
storm experts warned people in hurricane alley  early-season peace was no
reason to let down your guard.

``All's quiet in the Atlantic,'' said hurricane specialist James Franklin,
on first-day duty at the U.S. National Hurricane Center near Miami.

June storms are a relative rarity in the Atlantic hurricane season, which
runs from June 1 to November 30. Peak hurricane activity strikes in late
August, September and early October. With climatic indicators on neutral,
the prominent forecasters of nature's biggest storms are projecting an
average season.

U.S. government experts say residents of the Caribbean basin and the U.S.
East and Gulf coasts are likely to see five to seven hurricanes and eight
to 11 tropical storms. Colorado State University Professor William Gray, a
forecaster who has had some success predicting hurricane activity in the
past, has projected 10 tropical storms, with six becoming hurricanes,
three of them ``major'' with top winds of 111 mph or higher.

But the National Hurricane Center notes that ``average'' does not mean
``routine.'' The costliest U.S. hurricane ever, 1992's Andrew, the most
powerful, the 1935 Labor Day storm that ravaged the Florida Keys, and the
deadliest, the 1900 Galveston, Texas, hurricane that killed more than
8,000 people, all happened in relatively quiet years for hurricane

Last year was an exceptionally busy season with 14 named storms but none
threatened the U.S. coast.

`We really try to de-emphasize the activity of the hurricane season,''
Franklin said.

The broad climatic signals that forecasters use to predict hurricane
activity, including Atlantic surface temperatures, barometric pressures
and the ``El Nino'' eastern Pacific warm-water phenomenon, are providing
few clues this year.

``Nobody can say with any great confidence what kind of season it's going
to be. There are no strong signals either way,'' Franklin said. ``El  Nino
is a very strong negative influence on hurricane formation. But we don't
have one and we don't think we're going to get one.''

A recent poll commissioned by the American Red Cross found that while 58
percent of U.S. coastal residents from North Carolina to Texas are worried
about the danger of hurricanes, nearly half do not have evacuation plans
or disaster supply kits at the ready.

``Our greatest concern is that people have evidently been lulled into a
false sense of security because the United States was spared from a major
hurricane last year,'' American Red Cross Disaster Services vice
president Dr. John Climb said.

Although the first day of the hurricane season is usually storm-free, it
serves as a wake-up call to those in storm zones, forecasters said.

``This is the time to start making sure you're prepared so if a storm
threatens you're not out standing in line for supplies with everybody
else,'' Franklin said.

Back to Homepage