On June 1, the first day of the 2006 hurricane season, the Institute's Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch project issued a major report (pdf) revealing how poorly prepared the city of New Orleans is for another hurricane.
Now we have the first major storm to swell up in the Atlantic Basin and aiming for Florida, (which New Orleans websites like Bayou Buzz are closely watching):
Tropical Storm Alberto, the 2006 hurricane season's first named storm, was located in the eastern Gulf of Mexico as of early Monday, slowly making its way toward the central or northern Florida coast, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
Alberto, located about 240 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, was still moving north-northeast at about 8 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph.
A turn to the northeast and some additional strengthening was expected over the next 24 hours.
With temperatures rising -- especially in the Gulf -- it's all part of what storm experts predict will be a very active season. Here's how one group of experts (with a strong track record) see it:
Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) anticipates Atlantic basin and U.S. landfall hurricane activity will be 40% above the long-term (1950-2005) norm in 2006.
The TSR prediction includes:
• A 74% probability of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, a 22% probability of a near-normal season and only a 4% chance of a below-normal season.
• An expectation of 14 tropical storms for the Atlantic basin as a whole; 8 of these would be hurricanes, including 3 intense hurricanes.
• A 70% probability of above-normal U.S. landfall hurricane activity, a 22% likelihood of a near-normal season and only an 8% chance of a below-normal season.
• Four tropical storm strikes on the U.S., of which 2 will be hurricanes.
TSR is an award-winning consortium of experts on insurance, risk management and seasonal climate forecasting led by the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College London.
TSR's start-of-the-season forecast in 2006 follows its accurate forecasts for the extremely active 2005 and active 2004 hurricane seasons, as well as on-target forecasts for the 2003 (above-average activity) and 2002 (quiet activity) seasons.
They're not the only ones predicting a bad season. So why did Congress sit for months before authorizing flood protection in New Orleans, which still isn't finished? And when will our country take global warming seriously?