By Dan Shapley
Federal forecasters expect a severe tropical storm season, with as many as five hurricanes reaching destructive for ce, with 111 mph winds and nine-foot storm surges. Climate scientists are still debating about the data when it comes to global warming links to hurricanes. Warmer ocean temperatures could be expected to produce more intense storms, but the mechanics of hurricane-making in the ocean is complex. Even absent any clear climate cause-and-effect relationship to hurricanes, the Atlantic has been producing more intense storms over the past 10 years or so - a product, forecasters say, of a cycle of waxing and waning storm power that plays out over decades. Whether the overall changes in climate are adding to the current power surge is still being studied. Last year, forecasters acknowledge that they had it wrong. The forecast was very similar to this year's, but few storms materialized. This year, Andrea became the first named tropical storm weeks before the official start to hurricane season, June 1. One irony in this year's storm predictions is that some in the South are welcoming the prospect of an active tropical storm season
-- even as they fear a damaging hurricane. A drought has kept the region so dry swamps in southern Georgia are burning, according to a story in the May 23 Christian Science Monitor.