May 21, 2003
Fans of Caribbean cruising in summer and fall: don’t say you weren’t warned! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched its prediction for this year’s hurricane season. NOAA is anticipating somewhere between six and nine this year. It also predicts there may be as many as 15 tropical storms. NOAA’s forecast focuses on the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and, in a more specific breakdown, says that there may be 11 – 15 tropical storms. Of those, six will become hurricanes and of those six, two – four will be classified as “major.” That would mean achieving a minimum of category three status (with winds that start at 111 miles per hour); category five, the strongest, clocks winds beginning at 155 miles per hour. Reasons for NOAA scientists’ busier-than-average expectations include factors like wind conditions, warmer than usual waters, and, possibly, La Nina conditions (extra cold water in the Equatorial Pacific). As always, hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30 but tends to peak late August – mid October.