Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hurricane Season Just Five Days Away

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has managed to dump hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the water just in time for the arrival of hurricane season.

The season officially begins on June 1st, next Tuesday, and scientists are predicting a very active year for major storms. From McClatchey Newspapers:

...William M. Gray and Philip J. Klotzbach, forecasters at Colorado State University, predict 15 named storms, while Ken Reeves, senior meteorologist and director of forecasting operations for , predicts 16 to 18, with a ``higher-than-normal number of impacts, which is not a good thing.''

In 160 years of record keeping, only eight seasons have brought 16 or more storms, according to

One factor that could generate major hurricanes this year is the strength of the Gulf "loop current" that flows at rounhly 4.5 miles per hour:

The Loop Current "is one of the fastest currents in the Atlantic Ocean,'' [the Weather Undergound's Jeffrey Masters] writes. "The current is about . . . 125 to 190 miles wide and . . . 2,600 feet deep, and is present in the Gulf of Mexico about 95 percent of the time.

"During summer and fall, the Loop Current provides a deep . . . layer of very warm water that can provide a huge energy source for any lucky hurricanes that might cross over.

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