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Atlantic hurricane season could be 'extremely active': As Franklin strengthens
Miami (AFP) Aug 9, 2017

Franklin strengthens to hurricane in Mexico: NHC
Cancún, Mexico (AFP) Aug 9, 2017 - Tropical storm Franklin strengthened to a category-one hurricane as it raged towards Mexico for a second assault on Wednesday, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The NHC said in a report that Franklin was over the Gulf of Mexico 170 kilometers (105 miles) from the major port city of Veracruz.

Franklin struck Mexico's eastern Yucatan peninsula on Monday and was expected to make landfall again in the province of Veracruz late on Wednesday or early Thursday.

The second landfall "will be much stronger than the first one," churning up waves up to five meters high, said Alberto Hernandez, an official with Mexico's National Meteorological Service.

Mexican soldiers and sailors have been deployed to carry out preventive evacuations along the coast and the mountains of the state of Puebla, where authorities fear that heavy rain could cause deadly landslides.

Mexico's long eastern coastline is often struck by storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30.

In September 2013 Mexico was struck almost simultaneously by hurricanes Ingrid in the east and Manuel in the west, leaving some 157 dead in the southern state of Guerrero.

The Atlantic Ocean now faces a higher likelihood of an "extremely active" hurricane season with more storms than previously predicted, US forecasters warned Wednesday, updating the previous outlook issued in May.

Already, six storms large enough to merit their own names have roiled the Atlantic, just one indicator of a stormier than anticipated season ahead, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

These six make up "half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August," said the US government agency in a statement.

"The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010."

Between 14 and 19 big storms -- ranging from tropical storms to powerful hurricanes -- are now expected for the Atlantic, up from 11 to 17 predicted in the May outlook.

Five to nine of those could be hurricanes, and two to five of those could be major hurricanes.

A major hurricane means Category 3 or higher with wind speeds of 111-129 miles per hour (178-208 kilometers per hour).

Previously, NOAA said there would be two to four major hurricanes this season, and five to nine hurricanes overall.

The Atlantic storm season spans from June to November. Historically, the peak comes between August and October.

Forecasters now say there is a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season.

In May, they predicted a 45 percent chance of an above normal season.

Reasons for the unusually active season include the temperature of the tropical Atlantic.

The waters are "much warmer than average, about one to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average, and there is high confidence that this warmth will persist," said Gerry Bell, NOAA's lead hurricane season forecaster, during a conference call with reporters.

Also, there is significantly less likelihood that the weather phenomenon known as El Nino will form.

El Nino is an ocean warming trend that typically reduces hurricanes in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea but boosts storms in the eastern Pacific.

Another factor is the wind.

"Wind patterns that are conducive to storm development are now in place across the tropical Atlantic," Bell said.

These include weaker vertical wind shear, tradewinds and easterly wind patters coming off the west coast of Africa, he said.

All the available prediction models are pointing to a more active season than they did in May, Bell added, urging people in the region to prepare emergency kits and supplies.

The first hurricane of the season could be Franklin.

Currently a tropical storm, Franklin is predicted to reach hurricane strength later Wednesday or early Thursday when it makes landfall in Mexico.

Storm Franklin set to become a hurricane when it strikes Mexico
Cancun, Mexico (AFP) Aug 9, 2017
Tropical Storm Franklin will likely strengthen into a hurricane when it makes landfall again on Mexico's eastern coastline, storm forecasters said Wednesday. Franklin made its first landfall on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on Monday, dumping heavy rain on some of the country's premier tourist beaches. Moving west Franklin crossed the peninsula, emerging into the warm waters of the Gulf of ... read more

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