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Energy & Environment

As Hermine Approaches, Forecasters Assess This Hurricane Season

tropical storm hermine
NOAA
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Satellite view of tropical storm Hermine over the Southeast on Friday morning.

  When forecasters began issuing their predictions for the current hurricane season several months ago, they said it likely would be more active than normal.  

In August, four "named" storms formed in the Atlantic basin, and one of them - Gaston - became a major hurricane.  Hermine, reached hurricane status for a time Thursday, before making landfall in Florida.  

At North Carolina State University, hurricane researcher Lian Xie says it's easier to predict how active a hurricane season will be than to forecast how many storms will reach "Category 3" or higher.   

xie_lian-ncsu.jpg
Credit N.C. State University
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Lian Xie, N.C. State University professor

  In April, Xie and his colleagues predicted the possibility of 3 to 5 major Atlantic hurricanes this season:

"In terms of major hurricanes, it's a much smaller sample size we can work with, so there's much more uncertainty;  I would not completely rule out we may get that many, but from what's happening in the first half of the hurricane season, we might not get that many of the major  hurricanes," Xie says.

Xie says while it remains difficult to predict how many hurricanes each season will produce, storm system models have allowed forecasters to become more accurate in predicting the path that an existing storm will take.

HERMINE COMING THROUGH

Meanwhile, officials across the Carolinas have been preparing for possible effects from Hermine, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Coastal areas in both North and South Carolina are bracing for the storm, which was making its way north on Friday. The storm is expected to hit the Carolinas later tonight, bringing rain, heavy wind gusts, and flooding.

North Carolina emergency officials say they have helicopters, boats, and high-clearance vehicles on standby in case of flooding or other tropical storm problems off the North Carolina coast. Gov. Pat McCrory spoke at a press conference in Raleigh Friday morning.

"Our goal is to be over-prepared and underwhelmed when it comes to this storm. We want everyone to please be safe, especially with any high waters on our roads or in the ocean or on rivers or streams, especially in eastern North Carolina," McCrory said.

Coastal residents will feel the biggest effects from Hermine, but the storm’s edges were expected to touch the Charlotte region later Friday, bringing rain and heavy winds

The Charlotte forecast rain Friday, with a high near 75. Northeast winds of 14 to 16 mph were expected in the afternoon, with gusts as high as 26 mph.

The North Carolina department of tourism is urging vacationers planning to visit the coast for the Labor Day weekend to monitor the forecast. But the department says there’s no reason for anyone to cancel vacation plans entirely.

The storm was expected to pass through by Saturday morning, with sun forecast for the rest of the weekend.

RELATED LINKS

National Hurricane Center, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/