Last Modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 9:48 PM
This year’s hurricane season will be “above average,” with 13-20 named storms — seven to 11 of them hurricanes, including three to six storms of Category 3 or greater, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Brazzell.
A Category 3 hurricane has sustained winds of 111-130 mph and can produce a 9- to 12-foot storm surge.
Above-average seasons are attributed to warmer-than-normal water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, Brazzell said. Also a factor, he said, is the absence of El Niño, a warm ocean current that develops in the Pacific.
“El Niño actually suppresses hurricane activity,” Brazzell said. “With that not being there this year, we expect an increase in the number of storms we see.”
The 2005 hurricane season, which produced Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, was forecast to be an above-average season, with three to five major storms predicted. Hurricane Rita was the fifth of seven major hurricanes that season.
With a busy season looming, Southwest Louisiana residents should begin making storm plans now, Brazzell said.
“Always plan as if a hurricane will be headed this direction,” he said. “Know where you will evacuate to and have everything you will need ahead of time. Even though we can’t predict where storms will go this far ahead, always plan as if one if going to get you.”
Brazzell said September is typically the most active month during hurricane season, which runs June 1-Nov. 30.
This weekend, May 25-26, is the hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday. For more information, visit, revenue.louisiana.gov.