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Saturday June 22, 2024

Atlantic faces ‘extraordinary’ hurricane season

It said human-caused climate change was warming oceans and melting ice on land, leading to sea level rises that worsen storm surges

By AFP
May 24, 2024
A composite image shows Hurricane Lee churning towards the Caribbean after intensifying into a major storm, September 8, 2023. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. — Reuters
A composite image shows Hurricane Lee churning towards the Caribbean after intensifying into a major storm, September 8, 2023. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: The North Atlantic hurricane season, which starts on June 1, is forecast to be “extraordinary,” with up to seven storms of Category 3 or higher expected, the US NOAA weather agency said on Thursday.

Category 3 hurricanes pack wind speeds over 111 miles an hour and wreak devastating damage on houses, uproot trees and often cut off electricity and water for days or even weeks.

“This season is looking to be an extraordinary one in a number of ways,” said Rick Spinrad of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which cited warm Atlantic ocean temperatures and conditions related to the La Nina weather phenomenon in the Pacific for the expected increase in storms.

It said human-caused climate change was warming oceans and melting ice on land, leading to sea level rises that worsen storm surges.

“The forecast for named storms -- hurricanes and major hurricanes -- is the highest NOAA has ever issued for the May outlook,” Spinrad said. “It only takes one storm to devastate a community.”

According to the agency, between 17 and 25 named storms in total could develop with winds over 39 miles per hour, including eight to 13 forecast to reach hurricane strength.

“It´s reason to be concerned of course, but not alarmed,” said National Weather Service director Ken Graham, as he urged Americans to prepare for the potential arrival of a storm.

The Saffir-Simpson wind scale designates Category 1 hurricanes as having wind speeds at least 74 miles per hour, up to Category 5 storms with winds of 157 mph or higher.