US forecasters to predict slow hurricane season

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Federal forecasters are expected to predict a slower than usual hurricane season this year.

Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will gather in New York on Thursday to release the agency’s outlook for the six-month storm season that officially begins June 1.

Colorado State University researchers have forecast nine named storms in 2014, with just three expected to become hurricanes and one major storm with winds over 110 mph.

Forecasters got it wrong last year when they predicted an unusually busy hurricane season. There were just 13 named storms and two Category One hurricanes, Umberto and Ingrid. There were no major hurricanes.

Officials plan to roll out high-resolution maps that will show people where to expect storm surge. The maps were promised last year and are being implemented for the 2014 season.

Storm surge was devastating to the New York area when Superstorm Sandy slammed the East coast in 2012, killing 147 people and causing $50 billion in damage. Sandy lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey.

New York City officials also will announce a new hurricane preparedness initiative.

The Atlantic hurricane season goes through cycles of high and low activity about every 25 to 40 years based on large scale climatic patterns in the atmosphere. Since 1995, an average season has 15 named tropical storms, eight hurricanes and about four major storms. The last time a major hurricane made landfall in the U.S. was when Wilma came ashore in 2005, an eight-year stretch that is currently the longest on record.

During the six-month season, forecasters name tropical storms when top winds reach 39 mph; hurricanes have maximum winds of at least 74 mph.

Reprinted with permission from the Associated Press.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.