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NOAA ups its ante for hurricane season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has increased the number of storms it projects for this year’s hurricane season.

NOAA says it expects 11 to 14 tropical storms between August and November, and that seven to nine of those storms could become hurricanes, with three to five possibly becoming major hurricanes.

“This may well be one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, and will be the ninth above-normal Atlantic hurricane season in the last eleven years,” says David L. Johnson, director of the National Weather Service, in a statement.

Atmospheric and oceanic conditions that favor an active hurricane season, like warmer-than-normal sea-surface temperatures and low wind shear, apparently are in place. The combination of these conditions, according to NOAA, has been known to produce increased tropical storm activity over approximately 20- to 30-year cycles. NOAA expects above-normal hurricane season activity to continue for another decade or more.

In total, NOAA predicts 18 to 21 tropical storms, with nine to 11 becoming hurricanes. It had forecast a total of 12 to 15 storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes. An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 10 named storms, of which six become hurricanes.

— Jason Fell

Atlantic rowers finish but fall short of goal

A team of Dutch rowers has secured a place in the record books despite not breaking a long-standing record, as intended.

On July 27, Gijs Groeneveld, 26, Robert Hoeve, 27, Jaap Koomen, 31, and Maarten Staarink, 28, completed a passage across the Atlantic in a rowing boat in 60 days, 16 hours, 19 minutes — more than five days longer than the record they hoped to break. However, the men are the first to successfully make the eastward crossing from the United States as a team of four.

The rowers set off from Atlantic Highlands, N.J., May 27 bound for Bishop’s Rock lighthouse, near the Scilly Islands southwest of Cornwall, England. They rowed a specially built 36-foot rowing boat named Vopak Victory. A few days after crossing the finish, the team continued on and reached its home port of Rotterdam, Netherlands, Aug. 6, where the men were greeted by the city mayor, officials, and friends and family.

The record the rowers were attempting to beat was set in 1896 by George Harboe and Gabriel Samuelson, Norwegian fishermen who rowed an 18-foot skiff from New York to the Scilly Islands in 55 days.

— Jason Fell

Ahoy mate, brush up on your pirate speak

There is no point to International Talk Like a Pirate Day, say organizers of the Sept. 19 “holiday,” other than to indulge in a little silliness for a day.

Created in 1995 by Oregonians Mark Summers and John Baur, the annual day for weaving phrases like “Aye, matey” and “Shiver me timbers” into conversation was largely practiced among the creators’ group of friends. That is, until syndicated humor writer Dave Barry featured it in a 2002 column. The duo go by the monikers Cap’n Slappy (Summers) and Ol’ Chumbucket (Baur), or “The Pirate Guys,” as they’re referred to in news articles and the radio interviews they do each year on the eve of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Their Web site,, offers a history of the holiday and a glossary of phrases and terms, all delivered with self-effacing humor.

Free navigation DVD offered by Simrad

Simrad is offering a free tutorial DVD that it says will help boaters get the most from their Simrad electronics.

“Watching this DVD is like attending an advanced course in electronic navigation,” says Simrad marketing director Paul Comyns.

The approximately 50-minute video focuses on the company’s new CX44 NavStation combination unit, but many of the operational steps and features apply to a range of Simrad GPS/plotters and multipurpose navigators.

The DVD is available from local Simrad dealers, as well as for download at For information call (425) 778-8821.