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CNN Today

Hurricane Forecasters Predict Turbulent Season

Aired May 10, 2000 - 2:33 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story today is the forecast for the 2000 hurricane season, and it is going to be a rough one. That is the word today from the government's weather experts.

From Miami, CNN's John Zarrella examines an outlook for this season's turbulent weather.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Hurricane forecasters are just not sure what to expect. Strong climatic signals that made for easy to predict busy hurricane seasons the past couple years appear to be changing.

MAX MAYFIELD, DIR., NATL. HURRICANE CENTER: This may well end up being a transition year, sort of a neutral year. So hopefully, we'll be getting back to more the average number of hurricanes.

ZARRELLA: During the past five Atlantic hurricane seasons, 41 have formed, more than in any five consecutive years on record.

At a news conference in Washington, top storm forecasters warned, the climate changes that stunt hurricane development may not happen quickly enough to make much of a difference this year. They believe this season will bring more than the average 10 named storms and, more significantly, three of those are expected to be intense, like last year's Hurricane Floyd.

(on camera): Floyd killed 56 people in the United States. No single storm in the past quarter century has resulted in that many U.S. deaths. Floyd led to changes in the way emergency managers evacuate those in a storm's path and it reaffirmed what hurricane specialists fear.

(voice-over): As Floyd moved parallel to the U.S. East Coast, hundreds of thousands of people began evacuating. Motorists were stuck for up to 18 hours on roads leading inland. Had Floyd suddenly veered to the coast, hundreds of people might have died.

ED RAPPAPORT, HURRICANE SPECIALIST: Most of the people who become casualties are those that are stuck in their cars in gridlock on the roads.

ZARRELLA: Images of those stranded motorists and the potential disaster made emergency managers shudder.

TONY CARPER, BROWARD CO. EMERGENCY MANAGER: At one time, we had over two million people on the roadways here in Florida, evacuating for Floyd. That is far too many. We just cannot expect to move those numbers of people in the time frames that we will have in any storm event.

ZARRELLA: In the wake of Floyd, a new study was done in Broward County, Florida to determine who really needed to be moved inland. As a result, 200,000 fewer people will need to leave the next time a major storm threatens. The hope is the next time isn't anytime soon.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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