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Hurricane season off to slow start
The 2009 hurricane season has been off to a slow start, but experts say the real activity usually doesn't begin until August. Although the first Atlantic named storm usually forms by July 10, the early season lull doesn't necessarily mean a weak overall season. A maturing El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to depress storm activity by 20% to 40%, makes the outlook for the rest of the season look quiet. But forecasters say it's no time to relax, and El Niño years can still produce destructive storms. The 2004 season didn't get its first storm until Hurricane Alex began developing on July 31. After Alex, the season finished with 15 storms and six major hurricanes, including Hurricane Ivan. One of the three most-intense storms to make landfall in the United States, Hurricane Andrew, developed during an El Niño in 1992. Some of the most famed storms to strike Texas and Louisiana have come during an El Niño, including the great storm of 1900, says Jill Hasling, president of Houston's Weather Research Center. Given this season's slow start and the onset of El Niño, most seasonal forecasters now say about 10 named storms will form, one of the lowest totals of the past 15 years. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
The Baton Rouge Business Report 7-24-09