'Active' hurricane season predicted

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With the bad taste of superstorm Sandy lingering, forecasters are looking ahead to "an active or extremely active" 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.

There's "a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms," of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes, said the outlook released Thursday. That compared to the average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

"This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes," said Gerry Bell, the prediction center's lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, in a release. Officially, the season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 but hurricanes generally head for Long Island starting mid-August.

A report from Colorado State University puts the probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the East Coast at 48 percent and in New York State, 5.6 percent.

The likelihood of Long Island being hit by a major hurricane -- one with winds of 111 mph or greater or a category 3 or above -- is 2.6 percent for Suffolk County and .6 percent for Nassau County, Colorado State said. The odds go up for less intense hurricanes, with Suffolk's at 5.6 percent and Nassau's at 1.2 percent, the report said.

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The Colorado State research team, which calls its forecast "a best estimate," is predicting 18 named storms, nine of them hurricanes and four of them major.

"Long Island is vulnerable and we have to prepare," said Brian Colle, professor of atmospheric sciences at Stony Brook University. The odds may appear to be "relatively low, but anything greater than zero means we have to do something" to be ready.


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