The 2006 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, is officially here. This year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center predicts an 80 percent chance of an above-normal storm season--with eight to 10 hurricanes and four to six major storms. The 2005 season produced a record 15 hurricanes and seven major storms.
Most of the conditions that contribute to the formation of hurricanes are menacing: considerably warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures, lower wind shear, reduced sea level pressure, and an active African easterly jet stream.
Hurricanes can only develop when sea temperatures are above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This Aug. 28, 2006, image shows the temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico that were above 82 degrees Fahrenheit (orange-red) when Hurricane Katrina struck. The path of Katrina and its storm severity levels are indicated in black. The other lines indicate the tracks of other 2006 hurricanes.
New Orleans was under water in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Before it headed toward Louisiana, Katrina paid a wet, windy visit to Florida. One person trying to drive through the storm in Fort Lauderdale called it "easily the most harrowing yet exciting 10 minutes of my life."
One of the most deadly effects of a hurricane is inland flooding. More than half the deaths from hurricanes were attributed to floods. The intense rains from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 resulted in 50 drownings. Pictured is the aftermath of Hurricane Allison, which hit the Houston area in 2001.
More than half of hurricanes that hit land produce at least one tornado. There's no way to predict which storms will spawn tornadoes or where they will touch down, but new Doppler radar systems can give some warning. One clue: If you see hail or lighting, you're probably safe.
After receiving storms of criticism over its response to Hurricane Katrina, FEMA is bracing itself to respond to new hurricane emergencies. A worker in the FEMA Logistics Center warehouse in Ft. Worth, Tex. takes inventory with a bar code scanner. This enables GPS tracking of all of the supplies.
Generators are ready for deployment from the FEMA Logistics Center warehouse in Ft. Worth, Tex. during disasters.
If you live near the Atlantic Coast or Gulf Coast, take heed. The National Hurricane Center has some important safety tips to follow before a major storm strikes.