The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there is a 60% chance of an above-normal hurricane and tropical storm season, up from its prediction in May of 45%.
NOAA is forecasting 14 to 19 named storms, an increase from the May forecast range of 11 to 17, and a slight increase of two to five major hurricanes from two to four. This would be the most storm activity since 2010, NOAA said. The agency’s expected number of five to nine hurricanes overall is unchanged.
“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in a statement. “The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season. This is in part because the chance of an El Nino forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May.”
Bell said other factors that point to an above-normal season include warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than models previously predicted and higher predicted activity from available models.
There already have been six named tropical storms in the Atlantic in the first nine weeks of this year’s season, double the number that typically form by this time in an average year.
Two of these named storms, Cindy and Emily, struck the United States. Cindy made landfall on June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border and caused heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks. Emily made landfall on July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Florida, and caused flooding in much of south Florida, including Miami.
An average hurricane season in the Atlantic, which runs from June 1 to November 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
In 2010 there were 12 hurricanes and 19 named storms total.