NOAA Issues Hurricane Season Outlooks & Encourages Preparedness
June 1st is the official start of the 2009 Hurricane season that runs through November. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its outlook for the Atlantic and E. Pacific Hurricane Season. I will present highlights of the outlooks here and include links for your independent research.
The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season outlook is an official product of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), and is produced in collaboration with scientists from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Hurricane Research Division (HRD). The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. More info ...
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Hurricane Season Impact on Cruise Vacations
Every year I get several questions from clients planning a cruise during the months of June through November (ie. typical hurricane season). While NOAA and other forecasters use various scientific measures to predict the number and severity of storms for a given year, only Mother Nature knows for sure.
As you'll learn as you read the rest of this article, preparedness is the key to minimizing the casualties of tropical storms. Rest assured that all CLIA Cruise Lines take every precaution to keep passengers and crew safe in all types of circumstances. The response to the recent H1N1 flu is a testament to the industry concern for health and safety of all guests and crew.
I often tell my clients that I'd rather be on a cruise ship in a tropical storm than be on land. I have in fact been on many cruises during hurricane season, and will continue to do so.
The ship's captains and the cruise line's home offices are in constant communication with various federal agencies, such as the NHC in Miami. In addition, modern ships have state of the art equipment and charts that provide up to the minute information that the crew can use to keep the vessel out of harms way.
One consideration of course is the possibility of some rough seas and itinerary changes if your voyage happens to be in the path of a tropical storm that is forming. The cruise lines do a fantastic job, in my estimation, of dealing with the logistical issues surrounding itinerary changes. As long as you are willing to accept some deviation from your original plans, you should still have a fantastic cruise vacation, even in bad weather.
A Closer Look at the NOAA Hurricane Outlooks
Consult this figure, courtesy of NOAA, for more details about the outlook.
NOAA forecasters say a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year. What does that mean you ask?
Federal Forecasters say there is a 70 percent chance of having nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). There is some uncertainty in any outlook. According to NOAA, global weather patterns are imposing a greater uncertainty in the 2009 hurricane season outlook than in recent years. Updates are published during the hurricane season.
NOAA CPC calls for an 80% chance of a near- to below-normal season in Eastern Pacific
Because of uncertainties in current predictions for El Nino, a near-normal and below-normal season are equally likely at this time. The outlook also indicates a 20% chance of an above-normal season. See NOAA definitions of above, near-, and below-normal seasons.
A lack of hurricane awareness and preparation has in the past lead to major hurricane disasters. By knowing the dangers and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. The 2009 Hurricane Preparedness Week was held May 24th through May 30th.
A Hurricane Preparedness Web site has been launched by NOAA. The goal of this Web site is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take ACTION. This information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.
Useful Web Sites for Additional Hurricane Information
- NOAA Web Site - Weather alerts, historical data, outlooks, main source for this article
- Hurricane Preparedness - learn about hurricane hazzards and make a plan
- Real-time Monitoring (Atlantic) - current atmospheric and oceanic conditions
- Real-time Monitoring (E. Pacific) - current atmospheric and oceanic conditions
- National Hurricane Center - graphical tropical weather outlook, marine forecast
- National Weather Service - maps, forecasts, satellite images, warnings
- Marine Forecasts - regionally focused information for mariners
- Climate Glossary - learn the terminology so that you are better prepared
- Colorado State University - Tropical Meteorology Project's Forecasts
It is impossible to predict exactly what the 2009 hurricane season will be like. Scientists have made some great strides in predictions and warnings. As I've already mentioned, cruise lines closely monitor weather conditions and adjust their schedules accordingly.
If June - November is the time you planned on taking a cruise vacation, don't change your plans out of fear. Do watch the weather reports and make sure to check with your travel agent and/or cruise line if a storm is brewing before your scheduled departure date. The cruise line will modify itineraries to keep you safe.
Finally, I strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance, so that you can be covered for any unexpected delays and itinerary deviations that result in out of pocket expenses.