There’s never any outguessing Mom Nature, obviously. With that said, this year’s hurricane season is shaping up to be one capable of disrupting plenty of plans and commerce.

“Hurricane season will start early and stay late this year, says Joe Bastardi, chief long-range meteorologist for Accuweather.com. “My biggest fear is that it goes beyond the nasty season I have forecasted since February. 2010 may be remembered as the hurricane season from Hades.”

Bastardi predicts an early start to hurricane season (one or two threats by early July) and a late end with 16-18 storms.

Likewise, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for the six-month Atlantic hurricane season that began June 1, a 70% probability exists for:

  • 14 to 23 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher);
  • Of the above, 8 to 14 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher);
  • Of those, 3 to 7 could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph).

“If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record,” says Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.”

The NOAA outlook ranges exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

“The main uncertainty in this outlook is how much above normal the season will be. Whether or not we approach the high end of the predicted ranges depends partly on whether or not La Niña develops this summer,” says Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Niña to develop.”

For the week ending May 30, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:

Corn – 97% is in the ground, 5% more than last year and 1% more than average. 85% has emerged, 14% more than last year and 5% more than average. Warm temperatures promoted emergence of 16% or more throughout much of the Great Plains and Great Lakes regions during the week. 76% in Good to Excellent condition, 6% more than a year ago.

Soybeans – 74% is planted, 11% more than last year but 1% behind average. Sunny, mostly dry weather allowed for double-digit planting progress in all estimating states except Mississippi during the week. 46% has emerged, 13% more than last year and 2% more than average. Emergence was most rapid in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where above average temperatures promoted progress of 30 percentage points or more during the week.

Winter wheat – 75% was at or beyond the heading stage, 1% less than last year and 3% behind the average. Ideal growing conditions promoted head development of 31% or more in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Oregon during the week. 65% is in Good to Excellent condition, 20% more than last year.

Spring wheat – 95% is planted, which is 8% ahead of last year but 1% behind the five-year average. Seeding was complete or nearly complete in all estimating states except Montana, where progress trailed normal by more than one week. 84% has emerged, 20% ahead of last year and on par with the 5-year average. 85% is in Good to Excellent condition, 12% more than last year.

Sorghum – 50% is planted, which is 4% behind last year and 3% slower than normal. Despite planting progress of 11 percentage points or more during the week, double-digit delays remained in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Oats – 93% of the crop has emerged, 3% ahead of last year but 1% behind average. 30% of the crop is at the heading stage, 1% ahead of last year and the five-year average. 78% is reported in Good or Excellent condition, 22% more than at the same time a year ago.

Barley – 96% is planted, which is 9% ahead of last and 1% ahead of normal. 80% has emerged, which is 23% ahead of last year but 1% behind the five-year average. Abnormally cool temps in Idaho and Montana during the past few weeks slowed emergence, leaving progress behind normal. 84% is reported in Good or Excellent condition, 12% more than at the same time a year ago.

Pasture – 69% of the nation’s pasture and range is rated as Good or Excellent, 11% more than at the same time last year. 7% is rated Poor or Very Poor, compared to 16% a year ago. States reporting more than 15% of pasture as Poor or Very Poor were: Arizona (28%); Louisiana (19%); New Mexico (25%); South Carolina (16%); Texas (17%); Virginia (15%); and Washington (15%).