NOAA forecasters predict 'above-normal' Atlantic hurricane season

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U.S. weather officials are increasing the likelihood of an “above normal” hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said now that the El Nino has ended, it means wind patterns and other environmental conditions are more favorable for developing storms. Forecaters predict there is a 45 percent chance of an above average season.

They said there could be between 10 to 17 named storms. Initially, they predicted nine to 15. Among those, NOAA forecasters predict between five to nine of those named storms will become hurricanes, and two to four of those would become major hurricanes. They previously predicted between four to eight named storms will become hurricanes. 

“El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it’s gone, we could see a busier season ahead,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in a press release. “This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year.”

On average, the Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six turn into hurricanes, including three major hurricanes (Category 3 or above), according to NOAA.

Two named storms – Andrea and Barry – formed so far during the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.

This story was written in Tampa, Florida