June 1: Hurricane Season Begins

June 1, 2006
If in the past the first of June had folks looking ever forward to looming summer vacations, this year it's marked for its significance as the beginning of hurricane season more than any other reason. That's because 2005 was a whopper of a year for hurricanes.

Not only did 2005 produce deadly and destructive Wilma and Katrina, which wreaked havoc on U.S. ports and Mexican cruise destinations, but it also set several records: Tropical Storm Arlene, which first impacted cruises on June 10, marked the earliest-ever start to the season, and Hurricane Dennis marked the first time in history that four named tropical systems had formed in the Atlantic by July 5. And not only did the season start early, but it also ended late for the first time in decades -- Tropical Storm Zeta was still swirling about in the Atlantic on December 30, the latest storm since 1954.

So what about this year? In the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual forecast prediction, scientists from its Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center and Hurricane Research Division call for 13 to 16 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season. Of these, 8 to 10 are expected to become hurricanes, and 4 to 6 major hurricanes (Category Three strength or higher). (Click here for a look at Cruise Critic's coverage of East Pacific hurricane season predictions.)

In the meantime, today's weather report in The New York Times does offer a reassuring outlook, at least for the month of June. It notes: "Although tropical oceans are above the 80-degree temperature threshold for hurricane development, vigorous winds at 20,000 - 50,000 feet will rip apart most seedling clusters of thunderstorms roaming the Atlantic for the next several weeks."

That's the good news. The bad? "These winds relax as the summer progresses, with the heart of hurricane season arriving in September."

But there are no guarantees. So stay tuned to Cruise Critic's news, as we'll continue to cover the weather-related impact on cruise travel throughout the entire season -- and look out for our brand-new Hurricane Zone section, launching in mid-June with updated features and useful information.