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CNN Today

NOAA Predicts Stormy Summer

Aired May 10, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this hour with a hurricane warning. The nation's top storm trackers today are predicting a turbulent season of tropical weather, with numerous tropical storms and several hurricanes reaching the status of major. The forecast comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With three weeks left until hurricane season, NOAA said today that seven Atlantic hurricanes are likely this year and three or more could have wind speeds topping 110 miles an hour. The severe weather warning was posted this morning in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES BAKER, NOAA ADMINISTRATOR: Looking forward to the 2000 season, which is now going to start at the beginning of June, we believe that residents along the East and Gulf Coast and the Caribbean must look forward to an above average 2000 season for numbers of hurricanes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: That prediction comes with a busy season of hurricanes fresh in mind. In 1999, there were eight Atlantic hurricanes, five of which ranked as major, that's category three or higher. One of those storms was hurricane Floyd, blamed for more than 50 deaths in the Carolinas, amid record flooding. Floyd was also the cause of widespread evacuations and miles long traffic backups. The nightmarish trip to higher ground has forced several coastal states to adjust their evacuation procedures.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now from Washington for more on this hurricane story is Dr. Lixion Avila, he's a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center.

Turbulent season, Dr. Avila, how turbulent?

DR. LIXION AVILA, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, we think it's going to be an above average season. You know, what I call an average season is 10 tropical storms and five or six hurricanes, so it's going to be very interesting.

WATERS: It's going to be about the same as last year then, right?

AVILA: Well, last year we had like 12 or 13, but it could be very similar to last year, yes, indeed.

WATERS: And how do you know this?

AVILA: Well, we look at atmospheric patterns and we see that the La Nina is still there, and it's fading away; but still, we have the pressure pattern, the wind pattern, that could bring hurricanes to the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the United States.

WATERS: La Nina is fading, we've been hearing that for the last couple of three days. That means that the water now is warming up some, but apparently La Nina is going to go out like a lion because we're also hearing that our summer heat wave is going to be intense. And now you're telling us that the hurricane season is going to be rather turbulent as well.

AVILA: Well, La Nina is still there, it's going to be fading, but however the atmosphere doesn't respond that fast. La Nina, even if La Nina goes away in the middle of August, we still are going to have some time for that wind to relax. So we might get a busy hurricane season.

WATERS: And recently, we reported on a GOES satellite that went up to help you track these storms. How will that aid you in the prediction and the accuracy of your predictions of these storms?

AVILA: Well that's the eye in the sky. Just like your TV camera, we monitor those pictures every half hour and help us to determine exactly when the hurricanes are forming, and where the hurricanes are in the middle of the ocean.

WATERS: Will that help the folks along the East Coast also. Will you be able to -- how will that add to what you've been already able to tell the folks in path of storm?

AVILA: Well, we have that satellite that would help us to detect exactly where the hurricanes are. But also with the help of the new computers and with the help of the reconnaissance planes. It's all a combined tools together, it's not only one tool.

WATERS: So your prediction techniques are improving. What do folks who are susceptible to these storms, mostly we've seen anywhere from South Florida up into New York, all along the East Coast. What can folks do to better prepare themselves for any hurricane season?

AVILA: Well, we have to be prepared. They have to have a plan now, they have to listen to the messages coming from the Hurricane Center, and from your station. But also they have to remember, that even when a season is not active, like 1992, we can have a hurricane like Andrew that was the worst natural disaster in the United States.

WATERS: And you're also predicting some monster storms this year out of the 10 or 12 predicted, four or five of them -- three, four, five of them could be especially severe.

AVILA: I'd rather not call them monster, I call them intense hurricanes with winds higher than 100 miles per hour. WATERS: You call them intense, we'll call them a monster.

Dr. Lixion Avila, thanks so much, good luck this year with the season, we'll be in close touch all along.

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