Hurricane experts predict the 2013 hurricane season could be a bumpy ride, with the Atlantic region seeing four major hurricanes this year based on an average of their predictions.
Although Northern Virginia isn't located along a sandy Atlantic beach, its location is still prone to getting whacked by hurricanes. Anyone who recalls Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and Hurricane Irene in 2011 knows how destructive they can be, flooding homes and businesses and knocking out power for days. Even Tropical Storm Lee did some damage in 2011 in Fairfax County's Huntington area.
Hurricane season begins in six weeks, on June 1, and lasts until Nov. 30, with the peak of the season from mid-August to late October.
This year, Northern Virginia could possibly see a Hurricane Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto or Ingrid — for the complete list of official hurricane names for 2013, see below.
Although the National Hurricane Center's predictions won't come out until late May, several experts are already weighing in with their predictions of what we can expect for this year's hurricane season.
- Colorado State University predictions for the 2013 hurricane season: Four major hurricanes and nine hurricanes. A major hurricane is any storm that is in categories 3 to 5, with 5 being the worst. A storm becomes a Category 3 when its winds gust from 111 to 129 mph; Category 4 gusts are 130 to 156 mph; and Category 5 gusts are 157 mph or more.
"The tropical Atlantic has anomalously warmed over the past several months, and it appears that the chances of an El Niño event this summer and fall are unlikely," thus increasing the chance of a busy season, said Phil Klotzbach, who authored the forecast with William Gray as part of the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project.
El Niño, a warming of ocean water off the west coast of South America, often depresses the Atlantic hurricane season due to higher instances of wind shear as storms develop. In its absence, the Atlantic season can be more active.
- WeatherBell Analytics predictions for the 2013 hurricane season: Five major hurricanes and 12 hurricanes.
- North Carolina State University Coastal Fluid Dynamics Lab predictions for the 2013 hurricane season: Three to six major hurricanes and seven to 10 hurricanes.
- Tropical Storm Risk's predictions for the 2013 hurricane season: 3.4 major hurricanes and 7.5 hurricanes.
Hurricane names for 2013
When hurricanes result in massive destruction, their names are banned from the official lists, which are recycled by the National Hurricane Center every six years. The names are chosen and voted on by members of the World Meteorological Organization. See the list of retired hurricane names here. Last year's Hurricane Sandy was officially struck from the list.
The National Hurricane Center began using names for hurricanes in 1953, using female names. They began adding male names to Atlantic storms in 1979.
Here are the names for the 2013 season: