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Posted by on May 23, 2006 in At TMV | 4 comments

Forecasters Predict “Tougher Than Average” Hurricane Season

Why is it important for Americans to continue to demand to find out exactly and precisely what went wrong during Katrina — even if a ton has come out already?

Why is it important for Democrats, Republicans and Independents to want to get answers that are NOT covered with protective political figleafs — even in Congressional election year?

Why is it important for ALL Americans to insist that people who didn’t perform well during Katrina and who are still in place in disaster preparedness and response positions be retrained (and the retraining documented as part of the public record) or given the boot?

Why is it that voters of any or no parties should vote against any officials who from today on use the phrase “the blame game” rather than cooly looking at flaws and then comprehensively explaining what specific changes have been made to correct them?

HERE’S WHY:

Disaster planners at the National Hurricane Center warned in their annual forecast Monday that “a very active hurricane season is looming” and outlined a beefed-up system for tracking storms and helping people in their paths.

The Los Angeles Times story notes that they’re not expecting it to be as big as last year’s season but:

While the season that begins June 1 isn’t expected to be as ferocious as last year’s, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculate that 13 to 16 named storms will form over the North Atlantic over the next six months. Eight to 10 of them are predicted to be hurricanes, of which four to six will be Category Three or higher, meaning sustained winds upwards of 111 mph.

“The ultimate question is whether storms will make landfall. But that can’t be predicted this far in advance,” said retired Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., NOAA administrator, adding that it was “statistically within reason that two to four hurricanes could affect the United States.”

The New York Times:

The heightened potential for storms comes from tropical waters that, while cooler than last summer’s, are still warmer than usual, along with favorable wind patterns, Mr. Lautenbacher said. Much, however, will depend on smaller-scale weather patterns that cannot be predicted this far in advance, he said.

“Remember that it only takes one hurricane in your neighborhood to make it a bad season,” Mr. Lautenbacher said in a news conference at the National Hurricane Center.

He and other forecasters and emergency officials urged the public to prepare more scrupulously than last season, saying citizens should do a better job of stockpiling supplies in advance, preparing evacuation plans and heeding evacuation orders from officials.
And the public can — and should — urge emergency officials to “prepare more scrupulously than last season” and “do a better job..” PERIOD.

Meanwhile, one question is: do these warnings really help? The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Seaside residents from New England to Texas can’t say they haven’t been alerted.

Four groups, including the US government, are calling for a hurricane season far more active than average – although no group currently expects as many storms as last year’s record-setting 27. At least two groups are attempting to estimate the likelihood that specific segments of the US coastline will feel the brunt of some of these storms – a far more difficult prediction to make.

Yet for all the time and effort researchers have put into developing these outlooks, some evidence suggests that they might do just as well by telling coastal residents to be prepared no matter where they live. Too often, those warnings go unheeded, a recent poll suggests.

“It takes just one hurricane over your house to make for a bad year,” says Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center. He and his colleagues are placing an extremely high emphasis on individual preparedness, which means being able to take care of one’s family unassisted for at least 72 hours.

Still, efforts to warn residents, emergency planners, and industry are worth it, maintains Gerald Bell, who heads up the effort at the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. Hurricanes remain the country’s most costly natural hazard year in and year out. “If you’re going to have an active season, people need to know that,” he says. These are highly confident forecasts.”

So there are warnings issued to the populace.

There is also a warning to government officials, particularly federal officials in an administration with sinking poll numbers: something called the Nov. 2006 mid-term elections, which are held after hurricane season.

Prediction:
hurricane response will be a lot swifter this year.

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