US forecasters predict another intense hurricane season

World Today

US forecasters predict another intense hurricane season

Hurricane season in the Atlantic doesn’t begin until June 1 — but a storm is already developing off the coast of Mexico.

It’s a vivid demonstration of the forecast released Thursday by U.S. officials that this year could be another rough one for those in what’s know as “Hurricane Alley.”

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez has more.

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season was merciless, destructive and the costliest on record, and the outlook for 2018 is not any brighter.

Scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — known as NOAA — presented their predictions Thursday for the hurricane season that begins June first.

“We expect 10 to 16 storms with sustained winds of at least 39 miles an hour,” said NOAA’s Neil Jacobs. “Of those, five to nine will become hurricanes with winds of at least 74 miles an hour, including one to four major hurricanes, reaching category strength three or higher.” 

The challenge for residents of what is known as “Hurricane Alley” – those parts of the Caribbean and U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts located on the most common paths taken by the storms — is that areas ravaged in 2017 are still trying to recover. Getting hit again could be catastrophic. 

Hurricane Maria was the most intense storm to ever hit US territories. Scores were killed in Puerto Rico, where the electrical grid remains hobbled and thousands are still in the dark.

“Well, look at that!” said resident Miguel Molina Marina. “Eight months and we still don’t have power in the countryside!”

“What’s going to happen when the next storm comes?” he wonders.

Hurricane Irma had the highest sustained winds for the longest period of time on record. Winds reached nearly 300 kilometers-per-hour for 37 straight hours.

Irma destroyed parts of the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. Some residents on the island of Saint Martin are still living in shelters.

“We try to organize ourselves as well as we can,” said resident Cilienne Alce. “For instance, this is where my two children sleep. I have a boy and a girl. They sleep on this bed here, and I sleep on the floor with my boyfriend.

“We were offered some mattresses, which we bought, and we try to live with those,” she added. “Over there is a family of four — a mother and her three daughters.”

In Houston, Texas, authorities are still trying to figure out how to prevent a repeat of the catastrophic flooding left by Hurricane Harvey.

Government scientists say they have better systems to forecast future storms and shrink the cone of uncertainty of where a storm might make landfall.

But the warmer ocean waters in the Atlantic allow these intense hurricanes to continue confounding even the most up-to-date technology.