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NOAA issues hurricane season outlook
Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday runs May 31 through June 8
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Graphic courtesy NOAA
2014 Atlantic hurricane outlook
Before hurricane season begins each year, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center releases an outlook.

Experts gave odds May 22 that the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season will have near-normal or below-normal activity. The outlook gives a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

The outlook also calls for a 70 percent chance that eight to 13 names storms will form with three to six strengthening into a hurricane and one to two becoming major hurricanes. The average, from 1981 to 2010, is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

One of the biggest factors behind the 2014 predictions is the formation of El Nino, which would suppress the number and intensity of tropical systems.

“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the tropical Pacific are already taking on some El Nino characteristics,” said Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with the Climate Prediction Center. “Also, we are currently seeing strong trade winds and wind shear over the tropical Atlantic.”

He said NOAA’s climate models expect the conditions to continue, partly because of El Nino.

“The expectation of near-average Atlantic Ocean temperatures this season, rather than the above-average temperatures seen since 1995 also suggests fewer Atlantic hurricanes,” Bell said.

Twelve of the last 20 hurricane seasons have had above-normal activity. The area has been in an era of high activity since 2005, he said. The Atlantic basin includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

Despite, the prediction that hurricane activity could be less this year, experts urge people to prepare.

“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall to have disastrous impacts on our communities,” said Joe Nimmich, FEMA associate administrator for Response and Recovery. “Just last month, Pensacola Florida saw five inches of rain in 45 minutes – without a tropical storm or hurricane. We need you to be ready. Know your risk for hurricanes and severe weather, take action now to be prepared and be an example for others in your office, school or community.”

Climate experts rank named storms and hurricanes according to wind speed. A named storm must have minimum sustained winds of 39 mph. To gain the status of a Category 1 hurricane, on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, sustained wind speeds must increase to a minimum of 74 mph. The top rank, a Category 5 has minimum sustained winds of 156 mph. A major hurricane is a Category 3 or higher. A Category 3 has minimum sustained winds of 111 mph.

For more information about preparing for a hurricane, visit www.r­eady.­gov/h­urric­anes. For information about local evacuation levels and other information, visit www.p­inell­ascou­nty.o­rg/re­siden­t/dis­aster­s.htm. Additional information can be found in the hurricane guide at TBNwe­ekly.­com.

Hurricane preparedness week is May 25-31. Visit www.h­urric­anes.­gov/p­repar­e.

Hurricane preparedness is the featured topic Thursday, June 5, on There’s No Place Like Home, the radio show sponsored by the Housing Finance Authority of Pinellas County.

The featured guest is Tom Iovino, public information specialist with Pinellas County Communications, who provides helpful hurricane preparedness tips for residents along with resources and information available to weather a storm.

The show can also be watched on Pinellas County Connection Television, YouTube, or viewed online at www.p­inell­ascou­nty.o­rg/co­mmuni­ty/hf­a/Med­ia.ht­m.

Questions or comments about the show may be emailed to newhome@pinellashfa.com or call 232-6419.

Hurricane Tax Holiday

Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins May 31 and continues through June 8.

The following items are exempt from state sales tax and county discretionary sales surtaxes:

• Portable self-powered light sources selling for $20 or less

• Portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio selling for $50 or less

• Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting selling for $50 or less

• Self-contained first-aid kits selling for $30 or less

• Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits selling for $50 or less

• Gas or diesel fuel tanks selling for $25 or less

• Packages of AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries, selling for $30 or less

• Nonelectric food storage coolers selling for $30 or less

• A portable generator selling for $750 or less

• Reusable ice selling for $10 or less

2014 hurricane names

Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center, maintained, and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. Six lists are used in rotation.

Names may be retired when a storm is so deadly or costly that future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, the WMO committee will remove the name from the list and another name will be selected to replace it.

Names for 2014 are Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.

New tools for 2014

During the May 22 press conference, NOAA’s experts talked about new tools available to staff at the National Hurricane Center, including an experimental mapping tool to show communities their storm surge threat. The “potential storm surge flooding map” will be issued when areas along the coast of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts become under a hurricane or tropical storm watch. The map will show land areas where storm surge could occur and how high above ground the water could reach.

The NHC also is enhancing its tropical weather outlook and graphical tropical weather outlook for the coming season and eliminating the intensity probability table. The tropical cyclone forecast cone, which represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, will be smaller in 2014. The cone is formed by enclosing the forecast area in a set of imaginary circles the forecast track at 12-hour intervals.

The NHC has a Facebook page, www.f­acebo­ok.co­m/NWS­NHC and a Twitter feed, @NHC_Atlantic. You can follow the NHC director on Twitter @NCHDirector. The NHC website is at www.h­urric­anes.­gov.
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