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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Max Mayfield
National Hurricane Center Director

September 24, 2004

Max Mayfield

Thank you for joining us today. All of the forecasters here at NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami are busy preparing for what could be an unprecedented fourth hurricane to impact Florida in a single season, but we're well aware that people have concerns and we'll do our best to answer your questions.

Jason, from Swartz Creek, MI writes:
Thank you for taking my question. The hurricane season seems so active this year. What's bringing all of these these storms ashore? Thank you

Max Mayfield

You are right. This has been an active year in that there have been several storms that have made landfall in the U.S. Other years have been more active, but they didn't have the impact to the U.S. that we have seen this year. A large high pressure system over the central Atlantic Ocean has helped to send these storms toward the U.S.

For your information, according to historical documents, 1933 is recorded as being the most active of any Atlantic basin season on record (reliable or otherwise) with 21 tropical storms and hurricanes. 1886 is recorded as the most active hurricane season for the continental USA with 7 landfalling hurricanes.

Riki, from Washington, DC writes:
Director Mayfield,Good afternoon.....................

It was interesting how Ivan reformed and looped back down into the gulf. I haven't heard of that happening before............has this ocurred before?

Thanks Riki :o)

Max Mayfield
Dear Riki -

Ivan's reforming was a rare occurrence. The low level circulation held intact and looped around and was caught up in an upper level short-wave that reformed the circulation and eventually took it onto the Texas and Louisiana coasts.


Shawn, from Naples writes:
Is it going to hit Naples?

Max Mayfield
Dear Shawn --

As of the latest model run, it does not appear that the center of Jeanne will hit Naples. Naples could, however, feel the fringe effects of Jeanne tropical storm force winds and rain.


Ashley, from Cinncinati, Ohio writes:
What Damage did the hurricans do to the bahamas?

Max Mayfield
Dear Ashley -

It normally takes the Caribbean islands several weeks to conduct and formally report their damage assessments. However damage has been widely reported in the popular press. Here in the U.S., the damage assessments would be done by FEMA. NOAA, through its National Weather Service operation, would do its own assessment of where the storm went as compared to were we predicted it would go and use that information to help improve future forecasts.


Bill, from Madison, WI writes:
Is there a good place to research and review the path of one or more hurricanes that affect North America (i.e. satellite maps)? Thanks

Max Mayfield
Dear Bill –

NOAA’s Coastal Services Center in Charleston, S.C., has an excellent web site at The site allows you to locate all or any storm affecting a city or zip code for the period 1851 to the present.


Peggy, from North Carolina writes:
Do you have an estimation for what Category this storm will be when it gets to NC? Also, is the damage expected to come from the rain or from wind?

Max Mayfield
Dear Peggy -

It’s a little too early to define the category strength of Hurricane Jeanne by the time it reaches North Carolina. In fact, the winds may be downgraded to tropical storm strength by that time.

Typically rain and flash flooding in mountainous terrain are the biggest contributors to damage and loss of life.


Sam, from Philadelphia writes:
Is there any scientific reason why FloridaUS is being hit with so many hurricanes this year, or this just the odds and probability catching up with us? Thanks.

Max Mayfield
Dear Sam -

I’m sure many residents of Florida feel that they have had more than their fair share of tropical cyclones this year. NOAA’s forecast for the 2004 hurricane Season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, calls 12 to 15 tropical storms, with six to eight becoming hurricanes, and two to four of these becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale). The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30; the peak of the season is mid-August through mid-October.

Atmospheric patterns and tropical Atlantic sea-surface temperatures are now in place to favor significant hurricane activity this season. The main factor influencing the Atlantic hurricane season again this year is the active Atlantic multi-decadal signal, which includes a continuation of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures across the tropical Atlantic.

Part of reason is location. Florida sits in a path that many Atlantic storms take. According to records that go back to 1871, 8 of the top 20 communities most often hit by hurricanes are in Florida. These communities risk being hit by storms as often as every 3 years if the conditions are right and unfortunately they seem to be this year.


Will, from New York writes:
Are there any environmental policies the government can engage in that could prevent hurricanes or mitigate their damage in the future?

Max Mayfield

Our focus is directed toward the ability to accurately forecast the track and, eventually, the intensity of these tropical cyclones. Through better research and forecasting, NOAA, working with its other federal partners, state governments and the emergency management community, works to ensure the millions of Americans living in coastal areas have the information they need to make wise decisions. Preparedness is the key – planning in advance by every city, business, family and individual, and then putting those plans into action if a hurricane threatens landfall near you.


Tim, from New Orleans writes:
Do think Karl and Lisa are also going to hit the coast?

Max Mayfield

At this point it appears that neither Karl nor Lisa should post a threat for any coastal communities in the United States. However, do keep checking your local media or the NOAA homepage at for regular updates.


Max Mayfield
This hurricane season is unprecedented, but we must remember that it is not over. It takes only one hurricane in your area to cause destruction and risk to life. Be prepared, listen to your local emergency management officials, and be ready to ACT.

Thanks for all of your good questions today.

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