Forecasters to Gulf Coast: Brace Yourself, The Rains Are Coming

National forecasters have updated their hurricane outlook and say it's likely the Gulf Coast will see an increase in severe storms as we enter the peak of this year's hurricane season. Wendy Siegle reports.
NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean mean hurricane prone areas are in store for the most active storm season since 2005. Dr. Gerry Bell is the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Forecast Center. He says there are three key meteorological factors influencing the updated forecast:

"The Atlantic Ocean temperatures remain very warm; the wind sheer is below average across the tropical Atlantic, and that favors more hurricanes; and also the wind patterns coming off of Africa are setting up to be very conducive to more hurricane activity. So when you get that combination of conditions, you tend to have an awful lot of activity."

Bell says the beginning of the season didn't see as much severe storm activity as forecaster anticipated, but he points out that early August is the time when the most accurate forecasts are made for the remainder of the season. NOAA's updated outlook predicts a seasonal total of 14 to 20 named storms, eight to 12 of which are expected to become hurricanes and four to six, major hurricanes. By major, he means storms with winds that reach at least 111 per hour.

"During these very active seasons like we're predicting, both the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast are at much greater risk of hurricane strikes, and multiple hurricane strikes."

Bell underscores the importance of being ready for the active season, and encourages people in storm-prone areas to have a hurricane preparedness plan in place. In other words, brace yourself for the months ahead.

Wendy Siegle, KUHF News.