I don't know if this should be posted on this board or not....I thought it was quite interesting.... if it doesn't belong on this board, i apologize..... From the Miami Herald - Sun, Nov. 27, 2005 HURRICANE SEASON <B>Years of intense storms likely </B> The official hurricane season is almost over, but the long-term crisis is just beginning, and more storms will threaten South Florida. BY MARTIN MERZER firstname.lastname@example.org OK, we're trapped in a period of intense hurricane activity. We accept that now. But no one is going to like the answers to two key questions that have sobering implications for people and businesses in Florida: Did the deadly and destructive hurricane season that officially ends Wednesday mark the terrifying peak of this hyperactivity? And, more specifically, will these things keep hitting Florida? The answers: Probably not, and almost certainly. ''You better learn what good shutters are and you better learn what a good house is and you better learn how to deal with hurricanes,'' said Stanley Goldenberg, a South Florida-based scientist who four years ago coauthored a pioneering -- and prophetic -- report on the upswing in hurricane activity. ``Why do you think the University of Miami's teams are called the Hurricanes? It's because that was normal for Florida, and now these conditions have returned. People shouldn't be scratching their heads.'' The 2001 report by Goldenberg and other experts documented the start of a two- to three-decade period of heightened hurricane activity after 24 relatively inactive seasons. It concluded: POTENTIAL LOSSES ``Increased occurrence combined with dramatic coastal population increases during the recent lull add up to a potential for massive economic loss. In addition, there remains a potential for catastrophic loss of life in an incomplete evacuation ahead of a rapidly intensifying system.'' And this is just part of the 2005 scorecard: • A record 25 tropical storms in the Atlantic basin this year. • A record 13 hurricanes that grew out of those storms. • A record three top-rank Category 5 hurricanes. • The first time forecasters ran out of regular storm names. • The first tropical storm to hit Portugal -- ever. • Four hurricanes that struck or brushed Florida, adding to the four that smashed into the state in 2004. And, more painfully, one of the worst natural disasters ever to ravage the United States -- Hurricane Katrina's drowning of much of New Orleans and rampage through other parts of the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,000 people. Also a relatively ''weak'' hurricane -- Stan -- that killed more than 1,300 people in Central America and Mexico, and another -- Wilma -- that shocked South Floridians with its destructive ferocity. ''This reconfirms the conclusions we came up with in 2001,'' said Chris Landsea, a leading member of the team that produced the groundbreaking study, published in Science, a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal. ``The upswing started in 1995, but the big impact on the U.S. and especially Florida didn't begin until last year.'' At the time they wrote the report, Goldenberg and Landsea worked for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key. Goldenberg still works there; Landsea recently transferred to the National Hurricane Center in West Miami-Dade County. Here is what they and other experts say about our current, perilous situation: HURRICANE FORMATION The hyperactivity we've seen in recent years is likely to continue for some time, possibly another 20 or more years. The reason: Large-scale shifts in global climatology do not flip-flop quickly. Most scientists believe the ''switch'' that turbocharged the hurricane engine in recent years was a combination of supportive wind patterns and the cyclical return of elevated sea-surface temperatures across a key swath of the Atlantic -- a rise of less than one degree, but enough to pump high-octane fuel into developing storms. Landsea said the switch doesn't flick very often -- in terms of human time scales -- but when it does, it has dramatic effects. ''When you look at the cycles, it's usually busy or quiet,'' he said. ``It doesn't seem to phase gradually.'' But that doesn't mean that every year within this period will be bizarrely active. Every now and then, something will come along to temporarily diminish hurricane production. One example: El Nino, the intermittent weather phenomenon that produces warmer-than-normal water in the Pacific, which in turn creates crosswinds that can suppress hurricane formation in the Atlantic. At the same time, scientists are less impressed than most people by the raw number of recent storms. They prefer a statistical standard -- the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index -- that measures the strength and duration of all storms over each season. Even by that measure, the 2005 season has been awful. It produced more than 2 ½ times the overall activity of an average season. GLOBAL WARMING There may be plenty to worry about concerning global warming, but its contribution to hurricane formation or intensity remains unclear. Earlier this year, noted researcher Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a report that asserted a statistical link between global warming and a rise in the accumulated power of hurricanes during the past 30 years, with a particularly steep increase since 1995. But Landsea, Goldenberg and some other experts dispute Emanuel's statistical procedures and his conclusions. ''No credible observational evidence is available or likely will be available in the next few decades which will be able to directly associate global temperature change to changes in global tropical cyclone frequency and intensity,'' prominent hurricane forecaster William Gray of Colorado State University wrote in a rebuttal to Emanuel's study. Landsea and Goldenberg say global warming may add just a fractional contribution to our hurricane problems. ''People like to embrace global warming because it gives them a scapegoat,'' Goldenberg said. 'They say, `This is not normal. It's some kind of weird thing that's all the government's fault,' instead of saying, 'Hey, guys, this is normal. We're stuck in the hurricanes' path, and that's just the way it is.' '' When you talk about 'stuck in the hurricanes' path,'' you're talking about Florida. Not only were more bullets available in the form of more storms, but atmospheric steering currents shifted to our disadvantage, more frequently pointing the gun at Florida and the Gulf Coast. Most at fault: a high-pressure system generally based in the Atlantic -- known as the Bermuda High -- that has been meandering in a way unfriendly to Florida. Hurricanes, which are low-pressure systems, are often steered by stronger high-pressure systems. These phenomena defy long-term prediction, but they also tend to persist. ''If the past is a key to the future as regards steering, it seems like certain steering patterns have hung around for several years to a decade,'' Goldenberg said. We hate to bring this up, but during the last period of heightened activity, Miami-Dade absorbed strikes or brushes by 17 hurricanes between 1926 and 1965, one every two or three years. Many of those storms also affected Broward County. The implications for South Floridians are obvious. ''Having two hurricanes, Katrina and Wilma, strike Miami [and Broward] in one year is a rare event,'' Landsea said. ``We won't be seeing that kind of impact every year, but a fact of life is that you have to decide for yourself if the increased risks are worth it. ``To me, living in South Florida is great 99 percent of the time. Well, maybe 98 percent of the time.'' Goldenberg also lives in South Florida. His family almost died when his house was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. `FACT IS FACT' ''I don't like what I'm saying,'' he said. ``I don't necessarily enjoy going through hurricanes, but fact is fact.'' And now, with the official season ending but the long-term crisis still at an early stage, he and other experts sympathize with those who lost their lives to hurricanes in New Orleans, Biloxi and elsewhere, including South Florida. ''What's it going to take to educate people that a hurricane is a very, very dangerous event, and if you take it seriously and respond appropriately, you can do a lot to protect your life and property?'' Goldenberg said. ``But if you take it lightly, you can be in for a rude awakening -- or not awaken at all.''