Atlantic hurricane season, 2006

2005 hurricane season summary map: (Image courtesy National Hurricane Center)

The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs through November 30. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active in recorded history. How will 2006 compare?

Check back often for updates and the latest news.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:
Just in time for the beginning of the 2006 hurricane season, EARTH&SKY radio has done a cool series about the possible link between hurricane activity and global warming. (Scientist Kerry Emanuel says, "I think the idea that it's part of a natural cycle is dead.") See photos, read the interview, or listen to the podcasts.
posted on Fri, 05/19/2006 - 12:31pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University has been forecasting Atlantic hurricane activity for 23 years. Here's a summary of their April prediction for the 2006 season:

Overall, more active than average.

  • 9 hurricanes (average is 5.9)
  • 17 named storms (average is 9.6)
  • 85 named storm days (average is 49.1)
  • 45 hurricane days (average is 24.5)
  • 5 intense (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.3)
  • 13 intense hurricane days (average is 5.0)

"The probability of US major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 55% above the long-period average."

The predications are partially based on the fact that,

"...the Atlantic Ocean, although cooling slightly with respect to climatology, remains anomalously warm and central and eastern tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures anomalies have continued to cool. Currently, weak La Nina conditions are observed. We expect either neutral or weak La Nina conditions to be present during the upcoming hurricane season."

(Want to read the full report?)

A new, updated forecast will be issued on Wednesday, May 31, to coincide with the beginning of the official hurricane season.

posted on Fri, 05/19/2006 - 12:45pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

A new "extended range forecast of Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity" was posted on August 3.

Forecasters still anticipate an active hurricane season, despite the slow start, but they have reduced their predictions from earlier forecasts.

The new forecast predicts 15 named storms (instead of 17), with 7 hurricanes (instead of 9), 3 of which are expected to be major (instead of 5).

Why have the predictions changed?

"This 3 August forecast reduces our forecast from our early December 2005, early April 2006 and late May 2006 predictions due to small changes in June-July atmospheric and oceanic fields that indicate conditions are less favorable for tropical cyclone development in the tropical Atlantic. These changes include above-average tropical Atlantic sea level pressure, above-average tropical Atlantic trade wind strength and a decreasing trend in tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures. Sea surface temperatures have also risen slightly in the eastern equatorial Pacific. We expect an active hurricane season for the Atlantic basin, but we do not foresee nearly as active a season as was experienced in 2004 and 2005."

Also, forecasters have posted new probabilities for at least one major (category 3, 4, or 5) hurricane landfall on the following coastal areas:

  1. Entire US coastline = 73% (average for the last century is 52%);
  2. US East Coast, including the Florida peninsula = 64% (average for the last century is 31%);
  3. Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville = 26% (average for the last century is 30%);
  4. and above-average major hurricane landfall risk in the Caribbean.

Read the full report. The next forecast updates will be posted on September 1 and October 3.

posted on Wed, 08/23/2006 - 10:06am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Forecasters significantly reduced their forecast of Atlantic hurricane activity for September and October 2006.

According to the September 1 report/forecast,

"...we have so far experienced only 18% of the average full season Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity. ... In an average year, 33% of the seasonal average NTC of 100 occurs before the end of August."

The new forecast anticipates that there will be more NTC activity than average in September, with 5 named storms. Three of those are forecast to become hurricanes, and 2 of those hurricanes are likely to be major. October, however, is forecast to be less active than usual, with 2 named storms, and 1 minor hurricane.


"August 2006 had about average named storm activity, but the amount of hurricane and intense hurricane activity was well below average. Only one hurricane formed during August (Ernesto), and it lasted less than one day due to interaction with land. On average, about six hurricane days occur during August. We think that several features likely contributed to an inactive month.

There was considerable subsidence, dry air and dust across the tropical Atlantic during the month of August. Subsidence inhibits the development and maintenance of strong thunderstorms which are necessary for the intensification of easterly waves into tropical cyclones. Two of the three storms that formed during August (Chris and Debby) never reached hurricane strength due partially to very dry air being ingested into their respective circulations. Brightness temperatures can be considered a measure of mid-level moisture, with colder temperatures indicating more moisture. Note that brightness temperatures were well above average (i.e. less moisture) throughout most of the month of August.

Vertical wind shear has also inhibited development of tropical cyclones during the month of August. Shear has been slightly above-average this month, and it certainly played a major factor along with the aforementioned dry air in weakening Chris and Debby.

In the case of Ernesto, interaction with land decimated the cyclone. If Ernesto had tracked further westward into the Gulf of Mexico, it is quite likely that it could have become a major hurricane, and NTC for the month of August would have been at least twice as large as the observed value.

We view our overestimate of the 2006 hurricane season as a result of our inability to predict the substantial amounts of tropical Atlantic mid-level dryness and the extensive amount of African dust that enveloped this area in August. Rainfall in the African Sahel has also been lower than expected.

Another factor leading to a less active hurricane season is the continued development of El Niño-like conditions in the eastern Pacific. This has resulted in a modest suppression of 200 mb upper tropospheric easterly wind anomalies in the tropical Atlantic, thereby increasing vertical wind shear in the western Atlantic. Also, there has likely been an increase in subsidence over the tropical Atlantic due to an eastward shift of the Walker Circulation as waters have continued to warm in the central and eastern Pacific.

The increase of this year’s August hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific is another indication of suppressed Atlantic conditions. These two tropical cyclone basins have tended to be negatively correlated in recent years. When eastern Pacific activity is enhanced, as it has been this August, Atlantic activity is usually suppressed."

The forecasters also defended their models and their earlier forecasts:

"Our August 2006 forecast was a bust and not typical of our previous 6 August-only forecasts for 2000-2005 or our hindcasts of August-only activity as contained in our original developmental datasets over the period 1949-1999. Our developmental datasets showed considerable skill. ... Not that we have correctly predicted above- or below-average [NTC} in five out of the prior six years."

The next forecast will be posted on October 3.

posted on Fri, 09/01/2006 - 1:26pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Today's October-only Atlantic hurricane forecast calls for two named storms, one hurricane, and no major hurricanes.

posted on Tue, 10/03/2006 - 1:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in the Cayman Islands and the temperature is getting really hot, nights are very warm too. Almost like 2004 with Ivan hopefully it wont be one of those seasons. the heat is over whelming and not even the sea breeze helps hopefully it wont be this warm althrough the season that wont be good for us. Ok hope no one has a bad season this year!

posted on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 1:14am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

CNN is running a special feature for the duration of hurricane season.

posted on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 4:19pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Here's a list of the 2006 hurricane names (and here's hoping we don't have to use them all!):

  • Alberto
  • Beryl
  • Chris
  • Debby
  • Ernesto
  • Florence
  • Gordon
  • Helene
  • Isaac
  • Joyce
  • Kirk
  • Leslie
  • Michael
  • Nadine
  • Oscar
  • Patty
  • Rafael
  • Sandy
  • Tony
  • Valerie
  • William
posted on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 4:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I like Ernesto.

posted on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 6:45pm
me's picture
me says:

this is fasinating stuff

posted on Tue, 05/23/2006 - 9:00pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The first named tropical storm of the season is dumping rain on Miami. Tropical storm Alberto, with winds of 45 miles an hour, is expected to drop even more on Cuba, but it isn't likely to become a hurricane.

posted on Sun, 06/11/2006 - 10:13pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Ooops. The National Hurricane Center has just issued a hurricane warning for the Gulf Coast of Florida, stretching from Sarasota to Tallahassee. Alberto isn't a hurricane yet (winds have to reach 74 mph), but as of 11am EDT sustained winds had reached 70 mph, up from 50 mph just three hours earlier.

The storm isn't expected to come ashore until tomorrow, but Floridians are already feeling the effects of its outer bands. (See the projected path of the storm.)

The first named storm of 2005 was Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed on June 9, and came ashore near Pensacola.

posted on Mon, 06/12/2006 - 11:02am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

A tropical depression has formed off the North Carolina coast. So far, the storm isn't named, and it isn't expected to become a major hurricane (or maybe even a hurricane at all). At 11:00 EDT, the storm's winds measured 35 miles per hour. If they reach 39 miles per hour, the depression will officially become tropical storm Beryl, the second named storm of the 2006 hurricane season.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for the area of the Outer Banks beween Cape Lookout and the Currituck Beach lighthouse for the next 36 hours.

posted on Tue, 07/18/2006 - 12:01pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Tropical storm Beryl is heading north, and the storm watches and warnings will be discontinued later this morning.

Tropical storm Beryl: July 19, 2006 (Photo courtesy NOAA
Tropical storm Beryl: July 19, 2006 (Photo courtesy NOAA

posted on Wed, 07/19/2006 - 9:49am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Tropical storm Chris is gaining strength in the Caribbean and meteorologists expect it will become the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.

Tropical storm Chris: Early August 2, as the storm approached the eastern edge of the Caribbean (Photo courtesy NOAA)
Tropical storm Chris: Early August 2, as the storm approached the eastern edge of the Caribbean (Photo courtesy NOAA)

The storm had sustained winds of 65 miles an hour as it headed toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. (Even though the storm will liekly pass 100 miles north of Puerto Rico, tourists were evacuated from the Puerto Rican islands of Culebra and Vieques, and heavy rains--up to eight inches!--were expected to cause flash floods and mudslides.)

Forecasters say the storm could make landfall anywhere from south of Cuba to Florida sometime late this weekend.

posted on Wed, 08/02/2006 - 1:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The US National Hurricane Center, based in Miami, is warning that Chris could reach hurricane strength as it nears the Florida Straits on a path that could take it into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical storm Chris: The 5-day forecast track, issued on August 1, 2006 (NOAA/NHC image)
Tropical storm Chris: The 5-day forecast track, issued on August 1, 2006 (NOAA/NHC image)

Oil prices are rising due to fears of damaged US oil and gas facilities.

Adding to fears, the waters of the Gulf are particularly warm this year, as they were last year when they helped Katrina and Rita become monster storms. (Hurricanes are fueled by warm water.)

posted on Wed, 08/02/2006 - 1:59pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Tropical storm Chris is becoming disorganized, and forecasters are no longer predicting that it will reach hurricane strength. Wind speeds are clocked at about 40 miles per hour, and meteorologists Chris could fall apart completely over the next few days.

The National Hurricane Center says that strong winds in the upper atmosphere clipped off the top of the storm, robbing it of much of its strength.

posted on Thu, 08/03/2006 - 9:53am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

CBS News has a cool 2006 Storm Tracker. Make sure you click on the little arrow in the top right corner to see all the features the site has to offer.

posted on Wed, 08/02/2006 - 1:43pm
David's picture
David says:

I don't think the hurricane season in 2006 will be any where near as bad as 2005. The economy couldn't easily take it anyway. I doubt all those oil fields in the gulf are as prepared for it as they would like to be.

posted on Fri, 08/11/2006 - 12:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Well, i think that hurricane katrina was definatley something to talk about i mean look at all those people that lost homes, lives and a city.

posted on Fri, 08/11/2006 - 1:31pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

As predicted, tropical storm Debby has formed near the Cape Verde islands, and is moving slowly toward Bermuda. Meteorologists expect the storm to strengthen, but aren't sure yet if Debby will become a hurricane or make landfall anywhere.

You can use CNN's hurricane tracker to get the latest information.

posted on Wed, 08/23/2006 - 9:58am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Max Mayfield, the director of the US National Hurricane Center, says a hurricane worse than Katrina is totally possible.

"...As long as we continue to develop the coastline like we are, we're setting up for disaster."

Mayfield can imagine several worst-case scenarios, including

  • a stronger hurricane close to New Orleans;
  • a direct hit on Galveston/Houston;
  • a direct hit on the Florida Keys;
  • a direct hit on Miami-Fort Lauderdale;
  • or a major hurricane impacting New York/New Jersey.

"One of the highest storm surges possible anywhere in the country is where Long Island juts out at nearly right angles to the New Jersey coast. They could get 25 to 30 feet of storm surge ... even going up the Hudson River. ... The subways are going to flood. Some people might think, 'Hey, I'll go into the subways and I'll be safe.' No, they are going to flood."

Of course, there's no predicting when such a storm might happen. It could be this year, five years from now, or a hundred years from now. But a powerful hurricane hitting a major metropolitan area is a statistical certainty. Mayfield says that the 50 million people who live in US coastal counties from Maine to Texas should all have a hurricane disaster plan ready to use.

What's included in a hurricane disaster plan? A week's worth of food and water, a kit with flashlights and other gear, and an established evacuation route to higher ground.

posted on Tue, 08/22/2006 - 11:11am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Tropical storm Debby is weakening, but a new tropical depression north of Venezuela is strengthening and will likely become tropical storm Ernesto on Friday.

Forecasters expect it to pass close to Jamaica in the next few days, and possibly to become a hurricane.

posted on Fri, 08/25/2006 - 12:58pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Ernesto strengthened into a hurricane over the weekend, hitting Haiti and Cuba, and losing strength over Cuba's mountains. It was downgraded to a tropical storm, but is expected to regain hurricane strength in the next day or two, as it moves out over warm, open water, and is on track to hit Florida. Forecasters expect the storm to make landfall in the US as a Category 1, or maybe Category 2, hurricane. But the storm track still isn't completely clear, and the three- and five-day forecasts call for hurricane watches over a wide stretch of the Gulf coast.

posted on Mon, 08/28/2006 - 10:00am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Ernesto is still a tropical storm, but it could strengthen back into a hurricane before it comes ashore somewhere in South Florida as early as tonight. (If so, it will be the first hurricane to hit the US this year.)

In preparation, visitors have been ordered off the Florida Keys, and authorities are evacuating sick and elderly people to Miami. Residents and business owners are putting up plywood or closing hurricane shutters and stocking up on prescriptions, gasoline, batteries, and food staples. Florida schools and courts are closed today and tomorrow, Miami-Dade and Broward counties are working to open shelters, and Broward ordered a mandatory evacuation of mobile homes. NASA dropped plans to launch the space shuttle Atlantis today, and was prepared to move the spacecraft back to its giant hangar unless Ernesto changed course.

Jamie Rhome, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said,

"We can't pinpoint an exact place for landfall, but anyone in the cone [of probability--the possible predicted strike area--] should continue to prepare."

The cone includes the entire Florida peninsula, the eastern half of Georgia, most of South Carolina, and a big chunk of North Carolina. Even if Ernesto never regains hurricane strength, those areas could experience heavy rains and strong winds.

posted on Tue, 08/29/2006 - 10:05am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The National Hurricane Center has lifted the hurricane watch for all of Florida, but it remains in effect for coastal Georgia and the Carolinas.

posted on Tue, 08/29/2006 - 7:58pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Ernesto weakened into a tropical depression as it passed over Florida, but has strengthened (with winds now measuring 60 miles per hour) again over the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center has reinstated hurricane watches for the Carolinas.

posted on Thu, 08/31/2006 - 10:49am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The National Hurricane Center says Ernesto's winds are now topping 70 miles per hour, and that the storm may come ashore as a Category 1 hurricane.

Virginia, anticipating heavy rain and flooding, has declared a state of emergency.

posted on Thu, 08/31/2006 - 2:36pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Ernesto came ashore late last night near Long Beach, North Carolina.

posted on Fri, 09/01/2006 - 1:34pm
Daphne's picture
Daphne says:

Yikes!!!!!!!! here comes Ernesto...... I live in Pensacola.Ivan slamed us. I"m Scared!

posted on Sat, 08/26/2006 - 2:33pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Good luck through the storm Daphne. Well, you aren't alone. I found at least three people on Flickr (a popular photo sharing website) that have posted maps of the storm with their location along its path (1,2,3).

posted on Mon, 08/28/2006 - 3:26pm
bryan kennedy's picture
In this image from NASA's MODIS satelite you can see Ernesto clouding above Florida's southern tip. giant clouds swirl over florida
posted on Tue, 08/29/2006 - 5:48pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The Atlantic hurricane season, so far, has been tame, but a few Pacific hurricanes/typhoons are doozies.

Hurricane John is now a dangerous Category 4 hurricane. So far, the damaging winds have remained offshore, and models suggest that they might stay there. But the area from Acapulco to Cabo Corrientes (including Ixtapa) is under hurricane watches and warnings because, according to the National Hurricane Center,

"while the center of John is forecast to remain just offshore, any deviation to the right of track will bring hurricane force winds to the coast in the warning area."

And typhoon Ioke is a category 5 "super typhoon"--the strongest Central Pacific typhoon in more than a decade. With sustained winds of 160 mph and gusts to 185, it's expected to make a direct hit on Wake Island (a US territory in the Pacific) on Wednesday night or Thursday morning and destroy everything there that's not made of concrete. No civilians live on Wake Island, and the US military is evacuating all personnel (mostly civilian contractors).

posted on Wed, 08/30/2006 - 9:49am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Tropical storm Florence is churning in the open Atlantic east of the Lesser Antilles. Florence has sustained winds of about 40 miles per hour, and is expected to intensify over the next few days.

posted on Tue, 09/05/2006 - 11:20am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Florence is now a Category 1 hurricane, and forecasters expect it to strengthen into a Category 2 storm as it nears Bermuda (where it may make a direct hit).

Florence's projected path veers away from the East Coast of the US and out into the open Atlantic, but it could still create high surf and dangerous riptides.

posted on Sun, 09/10/2006 - 2:47pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hurricane Gordon is slowly churning away in the Atlantic about 670 miles east of Bermuda. Forecasters expect the Category 1 storm is expect to weaken over the next few days, and the projected path is over open water, nowhere near the US coast.

posted on Fri, 09/15/2006 - 5:00pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hurricane Helene, the second major hurricane of the 2006 season, is a Category 3 storm and still growing. Helene, with its 125-mile-per-hour winds, could threaten Bermuda by Friday.

Gordon is still out there, too, nearing the Azores with 90-mile-per-hour winds.

posted on Mon, 09/18/2006 - 8:16pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hurricane Gordon, originally forecast to weaken into a tropical storm, is now expected to crash into the Azores tonight as a Category 2 hurricane.

posted on Tue, 09/19/2006 - 5:07pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

r there any vhurricane warnings

posted on Sun, 11/12/2006 - 8:08am

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