Major Hurricane Threat Seen for Northeast U.S., Experts Warn

Willie Drye
for National Geographic News
March 28, 2006

Forecasters for the private weather service AccuWeather say the Northeast may be the next U.S. region to take a direct hit from a major hurricane.

AccuWeather forecaster Joe Bastardi said he sees a "cycle within a cycle" when he compares previous periods of intense hurricane activity with the current cycle of powerful storms that began a decade ago.

"When I study the tracks of past hurricanes and study what we're looking at now, one can only say that it's by the grace of God that the Northeast hasn't gotten slammed yet," Bastardi said.

Bastardi noted that during previous active hurricane periods, the Gulf Coast and Atlantic coast took direct hits from powerful storms, and then the Northeast took a direct hit.

"I'd be surprised if [the Northeast] doesn't have at least one and maybe two major hurricanes in the next ten years," he said.

"And I'm very concerned about a possible landfall this year."

Meteorologist Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said there's "a much more enhanced chance of experiencing a major hurricane in the Northeast. Whether it's this year or not, who knows?"

Where Do They Come From?

Landsea said hurricanes that make landfall in the Northeast usually begin as so-called Cape Verde hurricanes, which form near the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa (map).

They usually approach the Bahamas as powerful hurricanes that are then shoved northward by other weather systems over the Great Lakes and southeastern Canada.

The storms also move very quickly, which allows them to retain their strength much farther north than slower moving hurricanes, he said.

"When storms get into cooler water, the slower moving ones will fall apart," Landsea said.

Continued on Next Page >>


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