Hurricane season out like a lion

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    By Jessie Elder

    As Katrina and Rita whirl around the southeast states, it is apparent hurricane season is well underway, but approaching the middle of the season could mean good news.

    Hurricane strength depends largely on the temperature of the ocean waters, said Matt Bekker, BYU geography professor and meteorologist.

    ?In the middle of the season they?ll tend to be strongest because that?s when the ocean is the warmest,? Bekker said. ?You?ve had time for the waters to warm up in the summer and they haven?t cooled down yet in the fall.?

    This hurricane season, which runs from June to September, is predicted by the National Hurricane Center to be an extremely active season.

    The National Hurricane Center, located in Honolulu, expects a season total of 18-21 tropical storms. Of these, 9-11 may become hurricanes, with 5-7 of these becoming major hurricanes.

    Rita has been classified as a category 4 hurricane, meaning they have winds ranging from 131 to 155 miles per hour that are expected to cause extreme damage.

    Bekker, however, said he doesn?t expect a category five hurricane to develop. In fact, he said he expects the hurricanes to weaken as October and November approach.

    ?They don?t necessarily get stronger repeatedly,? he said. ?Now?s about the time you?d expect to see the strongest ones.?

    Although this year?s and last year?s hurricanes seem to be particularly active, Bekker said it would be hard to tie these two years into a trend.

    ?We?ve had some cases where we?ve had a few active years and a few inactive years,? Bekker said. ?I think we need to get more years before we can start talking about any distinct trends.?

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