for National Geographic News
With New Orleans in ruins after Hurricane Katrina and North Carolina threatened by Hurricane Ophelia, U.S. coastal residents are getting more bad news: The rest of the 2005 hurricane season probably will be very active.
A team led by William Gray, a professor of meteorology at Colorado State University, expects four more hurricanes will form in September and two in October.
The scientists predict that two of the September hurricanes will be major storms with winds of at least 111 miles an hour (178 kilometers an hour). One of the October hurricanes is also expected to be a major storm.
Gray, a pioneer in long-range hurricane forecasting, and research associates Phil Klotzbach and William Thorson released their prediction earlier this month.
"We anticipate that the 2005 Atlantic basin tropical cyclone season will be much higher than the full season activity we anticipated in our early December, early April, and early June forecasts," the trio wrote.
"We expect that by the time the 2005 hurricane season is over, we will witness seasonal tropical cyclone activity at near record levels."
This season already has been one for the record books. Although the hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, the most powerful storms usually don't start forming until around mid-August. September 10 is considered the peak of the season.
This year, however, was an exception. Five hurricanes formed in July. Two of themHurricane Dennis and Hurricane Emilybecame the most powerful hurricanes on record for that month.
The 2005 season will also dwarf the cost of destruction caused by previous hurricanes because of one monster stormHurricane Katrina. The tempest struck the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi on August 29, sending a massive storm surge that pounded against the levees intended to protect New Orleans from flooding.
The levees gave way after the hurricane's eye had passed, flooding most of the city and causing unprecedented damage. Katrina then slammed into Mississippi with only slightly less force and inflicted catastrophic damage to the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi.
Authorities ordered all of New Orleans's approximately 500,000 residents to evacuate the city. The breaks in the levees have since been patched and water is being pumped out of the city. But it could be many months before residents can return.
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