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Record Heat, Storm Indicator
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Posted by:May 20th 2008, 03:31:36 pm
Fig Tree News TeamBy JUAN MCCARTNEY, Guardian Senior Reporter,

One of the country's top meteorologists believes the record heat the country has been experiencing over the past few days could indicate strong hurricane activity during the upcoming season.

Over the weekend, temperatures peaked to around 95 degrees Fahrenheit in New Providence - a record for the month of May - with a heat index over 100 degrees in some parts of the country. The average temperature for May is 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, ten degrees below readings over the weekend.

Meteorological Officer Godfrey Burnside told The Guardian that the current trend raises a red flag.

"Looking through some of the indicators, the last time something like this happened was in 2005, and you know what happened in 2005," he said.

The 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the most active in recorded history. Twenty-six named tropical storms formed, breaking the old record of 21 set back in 1933. Thirteen of those storms became hurricanes, breaking the old record of 12 set back in 1969. Seven of those hurricanes became major hurricanes (category three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).

Three of those hurricanes - Katrina, Rita and Wilma – reached category five intensity, marking the first time since 1851 that three category five storms have been known to occur in a single season.

"We're looking at heat indexes probably reaching in the lower hundreds, the combination of both the relative humidity and the heat, so at this point in time it [could feel as hot] as 100 to 105 (degrees)," Burnside said Monday. He added that, "people should drink a lot of water and also stay in shaded areas."

Burnside said several factors are contributing to the record heat.

"The average amount of rainfall for the month of May is 4.7 inches. So far this month there has been 2/100 of an inch of rainfall; significantly low for the month of May," he explained.

Burnside also pointed to Gulf Stream winds blowing in from the southwest as a contributing factor.

The rise in temperatures has led to some water vendors seeing a spike in sales.

A vendor near the Thompson Blvd. roundabout, who declined to give her name, said she had sold out of five-gallon bottles of water within hours of opening Monday morning.

Holiday Ice Company Principal Policy Director Sarah Fox, also told The Guardian that business had been booming over the past few days.

"Usually our winter months are much slower, but recently it has been booming," she said, adding that the company is prepared for the increased demand.

"We have made provisions in the past to basically stock up on ice, especially if there is a hurricane. Although we're not looking forward to a hurricane, people can look to the Holiday Ice Company to purchase ice if they need it when it gets hot like it is now."

Burnside said forecasters are looking for the weather to cool down by the weekend when some rainfall is expected.

The hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 and has an average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Dr. Philip J. Klotzbach and Dr. William M. Gray of Colorado State University released their teams forecast for the 2008 season in April.

They predicted this year's season will be much more active than normal with 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four intense hurricanes.

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