There are currently three hurricanes and two tropical stormsin the middle south Atlantic and Pacific oceans. One of thetropical storms, Rita in the Atlantic, is expected to crossthe Florida strait into the Gulf of Mexico, where watertemperatures remain abnormally high.

According to sources, Rita has alreadytriggered evacuation orders foroil platforms in the Gulf.

If the storm remains organized when it reaches the Gulf, itcould well strengthen into a powerful hurricane. If it doesso, it will threaten land. There is no way to tell where itmight make landfall if it does reach the Gulf and strengthen.

Hurricane Philippe is presently east of the Leeward Islandsand moving slowly in a northwesterly direction. Thishurricane is likely to enter colder waters and weaken beforeit makes landfall, unless it turns to a more westerly coursewithin the next 24 hours.

Hurricanes Kenneth and Jova and Tropical Storm Max are inthe southwestern Pacific and are currently marine hazards only.

The presence of so many organized tropical storm systems atthe same time is highly unusual. In addition, there areareas of the Atlantic closer to Africa that remain in anideal condition for forming hurricanes, as do the waters ofthe Gulf of Mexico.

This extremely active hurricane season is being caused bytwo factors: a long cycle of hurricane formation has entereda more active period, and global warming has both raisedocean and air temperatures close to the ground and cooledthe stratosphere, causing a strengthening of these storms.

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