Pacific season probably will be less active in 2011

The Climate Prediction Center said Monday that climate conditions point to a below normal hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for a 5 percent probability of an above normal season, a 25 percent probability of a near normal season and a 70 percent probability of a below normal season.

Allowing for forecast uncertainties, seasonal hurricane forecasters estimate a 70 percent chance of 9 to 15 named storms, which includes 5 to 8 hurricanes, of which 1 to 3 are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 to 16 named storms, with eight to nine becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through Nov. 30, with peak activity from July through September.

Eastern Pacific tropical storms most often track westward over open waters, sometimes reaching Hawaii and beyond. However, some occasionally head toward the northeast and may bring rainfall to the arid southwestern United States during the summer months. Also, during any given season, two to three tropical storms can affect western Mexico or Central America. Residents, businesses and government agencies of coastal and near-coastal regions should always prepare prior to each and every hurricane season regardless of the seasonal hurricane outlook, the agency said.

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