- A private weather company says we should brace for at least two major hurricanes in the coming months, like 2004's Hurricane Ivan, pictured above. (NOAA)
Jeebers, as if Irene wasn't enough excitement for the year, a private forecasting company is warning to expect a whole barrel load of hurricane activity before the season ends on Nov. 30.
In an update to its 2011 Atlantic hurricane outlook, Weather Services International predicts that the U.S. will be menaced by four more hurricanes in the next couple months. (This is after NOAA also beefed up its outlook.) WSI thinks that two of these cyclones will be of the "major" variety, rating at Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. That's powerful enough to create a "high risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris" and to destroy nearly all mobile homes built before 1994, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Ivan was a Category 3 when it hit the Gulf Coast in 2004, and look how that played out.
WSI has also bumped up the total number of named storms it expects to materialize in the Atlantic basin. The old forecast had 18 named storms, but with the number already at 14 the company believes America should now prepare for 21. Lucky 21! More storms than that and we'd have to start employing the Greek alphabet for names.
But enough scary talk. No hurricane forecaster can predict whether tempests weeks in the future will touch the United States' hallowed ground. It could be none of them, given how these one-eyed monsters have tended to veer away from the East Coast this year. There were a ton of named storms in 2010 (meaning 19) thanks to La Niña, but no hurricanes actually made landfall. Here's an explanation of why that was, if you're curious.
What had the WSI meteorologists scurrying to their keyboards for a rewrite? It's the nature of the tropics in 2011: They've been extremely productive at churning out cyclone after cyclone. According to the Weather Channel, which owns the forecasting company:
"The fact that there have been 11 storms that have remained below hurricane-strength is quite unusual and is likely a reflection of the reduced instability over the Atlantic sector so far this season," said WSI Chief Meteorologist Dr. Todd Crawford. "However, the 14 storms during the first half of the season occurred at a near-record pace; and we have increased our numbers from 18 to 21 to account for the high first-half numbers.
Already, forecasters are monitoring a bloated sea spinner closing in on the U.S. called Tropical Storm Ophelia. And the Atlantic isn't the only body of water popping out large storms right now. Here is Typhoon Roke on Tuesday as it crawled toward Japan; Roke is expected to make landfall near Tokyo sometime today.