On the remaining hurricane season

Published 2:54 pm Friday, August 12, 2011

The Times-Picayune, New Orleans

What was left of Tropical Storm Emily headed out into the Atlantic, which was good news for Central Florida.

The demise of Emily, though, comes as hurricane forecasters are predicting more named storms than they did earlier this year. The mid-season update is the one to pay attention to, because it is based on actual conditions.

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This year, those conditions are ripe for storms, according to forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

The water surface temperatures in the Atlantic are the third-warmest on record, and there is a possibility of a return of La Nina — which increases the chance of hurricanes.

Based on those conditions, forecasters increased the number of named storms expected this season to between 14 and 19 with 7 to 10 hurricanes. Three to five of those could be major hurricanes.

NOAA had already predicted an active season with 12 to 18 named storms, but the update is made with greater certainty, forecasters said. Still, it is simply that: a prediction.

The 2010 hurricane season lived up to expectations as an extremely active season with 19 named storms. But most of the storms that formed did not hit the United States. Let’s hope that we are as lucky this year.

Still, it is wise to prepare for stormy weather. Louisianians should stock up on provisions like batteries, flashlights, generators and nonperishable food.

Good preparation and planning now can help if a storm does head this way. The evacuation plan that worked well in the past might need to be revised. Family and friends might have new cell phone numbers.

If luck holds, you won’t need any of it. But it’s better to get ready now than to wait until a storm is in the Gulf.