This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 03, 2006

Forecasters Predict an Active and Dangerous Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1st, and forecasters are predicting an active season. Hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU), employing a statistical system based on past trends, are predicting a "very active" season with landfall probabilities "well above their long-period averages." Their updated forecast, released in April, projects 17 named storms, of which 9 will become hurricanes. Five of those hurricanes are expected to become intense, and the probability of a major hurricane landfall in the United States is estimated to be about 55 percent higher than the long-term average. The forecasters report that the Atlantic Ocean "remains anomalously warm." See the CSU press release and forecast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed the warming of the Atlantic Ocean on May 1st, noting that the region where hurricanes originate has warmed several tenths of a degree Celsius over the 20th century. According to NOAA, new climate models "suggest that human activity, such as increasing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, may contribute significantly to this warming." With hurricane season approaching soon, NOAA is on a five-day hurricane preparedness tour along the Gulf Coast and Florida this week. See the NOAA press releases on the ocean warming and the hurricane preparedness tour.

Meanwhile, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) has boosted its estimate of the damage to oil and gas infrastructure from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The MMS raised the number of damaged pipelines from 183 to 457 and raised the number of large pipelines that were damaged from 64 to 101. Of the large pipelines, only 32 have returned to service. On the positive side, of four major platforms that were damaged, three will return to service soon, and the fourth will return to service late this year. See the MMS press release.