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Friday, April 18, 2014
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Editorial: Hurricane season isn't over just yet

Last Modified: Tuesday, September 03, 2013 7:43 PM Joyfully, the 2013 hurricane season has been tame.

But hold the celebrations and uncorking of the champagne. We shouldn’t let our guard down. The 2013 hurricane season is barely half over. And the month of September, historically, has been the busiest month for Atlantic Ocean-based hurricanes.

No further reminder is needed than Tuesday’s tropical outlook from the National Weather Service. The NWS highlighted three areas of disturbances lined up like commercial airlines on final approach to a major airport.

The closest sat over the Yucatan Peninsula, and though the NWS said it had only a 30 percent chance of developing into a serious storm, it bears watching as it moves west over the warm waters of the Bay of Campeche.

Another low-pressure area bubbled in the Eastern Caribbean Tuesday, and forecasters said it had a 50 percent chance of developing into a named storm. Long-range projections indicate it would not make its way into the Gulf of Mexico.

A third tropical wave has formed near the West Coast of Africa. The NWS gives it only a 20 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm, but wildly varying models indicate it bears watching.

Meanwhile, the NWS reports that tropical cyclone activity for the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico through the end of August was about 70 percent below the 1981 – 2010 average.

The season has produced no hurricanes and only six tropical storms so far — two each for the first three months of the season.

That’s a far cry from the respected forecast of Colorado State University meteorologists, who on the eve of the 2013 season projected nine tropical storms and nine hurricanes, four of which would be major. The projections were based on unusually warmer temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and the decrease of wind shear, which inhibits storms from strengthening.

With the start of school and pro, college and high school football under way, it’s easy to become distracted from the potential threats in the tropics.

But remember this: The last two hurricanes that dealt misery to Southwest Louisiana — Hurricanes Rita and Ike — made landfall on Sept. 24, 2005, and Sept. 13, 2008, respectively.

And no matter how many form, it only takes one making landfall on the Louisiana or upper Texas coast to create havoc.

Bottom line: stay vigilant.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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