The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's official report won't be released until May 22. However, a spokesman for the NOAA's National Weather Service tells us that early buzz is due to the fact that Dr. William Gray, a long-time weather researcher and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, released his outlook for the upcoming season this past Monday. Gray predicts 17 named storms; of these, he says nine will become hurricanes, with five classified as "major" (Category Three or above).
Gray's announcement also happened to coincide with this week's National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, during which NOAA National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza did say the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season will likely be above normal.
Will these prophecies be fulfilled or fall flat? Only time will tell. Last year's hurricane season, covered extensively in Cruise Critic's first-ever Hurricane Zone, was also initially pegged as "very active" -- but turned out to be mild, especially compared to 2005 (the busiest year on record).
Stay tuned for our full report on the NOAA's official predictions on May 22 (the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30). And in the meantime, get ready by revisiting the Hurricane Zone for useful tips on travel insurance and hurricane season cruising.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor