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Monday, May 23, 2011

Experts predict active hurricane season

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        Higher than normal sea surface temperatures and a weakening La Niña effect have led scientists in two respected organizations to come to about the same conclusion -– the upcoming hurricane season that begins next week is likely to produce above-average activity.  The La Niña effect –- the opposite of El Niño -- lowers sea surface temperatures, leading to dryer periods.  When the effect weakens, conditions support more rain.

        The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its latest hurricane season predictions just a few days ago, forecasting that the nation will endure between three and six major hurricanes during the season (one to three is “normal”); six to 10 hurricanes (five to seven normal); and 12 to 18 named storms (nine to 12 is normal).  The official hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30.

        The NOAA’s predictions follow and concur with those of

Hurricane Donna in 1960 produced hurricane force winds from Florida to New England.

Colorado State University’s well-regarded hurricane experts Phillip Klotzbach and William Gray, who earlier estimated five major hurricanes, nine hurricanes and 17 named storms, which they have since revised to 16 storms.  Normal annual activity between 1950 and 2000, the professors determined, was fewer than 10 storms and six hurricanes, and just 2.3 major hurricanes.  If the forecasters are correct, named hurricanes, which are listed alphabetically as they occur, will stop in the 2011 season at Philippe, the 16th on this year’s list; Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney will remain unused.

        We have helped some of our readers find homes in golf communities along the eastern seaboard, and others are currently considering the purchase of a home near the coast in the Carolinas.  History suggests major hurricanes occur there, on average, every couple of decades.  In 1960, for example, Hurricane Donna set something of a record by becoming the first, and still only, storm to register hurricane-force winds in Florida, the Mid-Atlantic states, and New England, including 120 mph gusts in Manteo, NC, at the southern end of the Outer Banks.

        It would be almost 30 years, however, before another storm of

Hurricane Hugo's winds, which devasted Charleston at 120 mph, were still blowing up to 99 mph in Charlotte, a three-hour drive inland.

magnitude would assault the Carolinas, and it was a big one.  In 1989, Hurricane Hugo devastated the city of Charleston with winds up to 120 mph.  Even Charlotte, a three-hour drive inland, measured wind gusts to 99 mph from Hugo.  Hurricane Floyd 10 years later had its eye on Wilmington, NC, literally, dumping nearly 20 inches on the sodden town before producing a foot of rain or more on a path that took it north through New York State.  Isabel and Charley in 2003 and 2004, respectively, precipitated torrential rains in the Carolinas and spawned a number of dangerous tornadoes.  Since then, the Carolina coast has not endured the kinds of storms experienced by Gulf coast towns in the early years of this century, including the now legendary Katrina.

        With such modern inventions as the Weather Channel and with well-honed local evacuation plans in virtually every beach community, those who live along the coast receive plenty of warning and have plenty of escape options before the storms come.  Modern construction methods have made homes in most locations able to withstand the strongest storms.  Most of us will take our chances in exchange for the opportunity to be close by a mostly peaceful ocean.  Our hope here is for a safe and uneventful 2011 hurricane season.

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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.

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