NOAA forecasts above-average Atlantic hurricane season

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NOAA is forecasting an above-average hurricane season. (KTRK)

Forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center say the Atlantic could see another above-normal hurricane season this year.

Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1. NOAA forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

Forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which five to nine could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including two to four major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

These numbers include Tropical Storm Arlene, a rare pre-season storm that formed over the eastern Atlantic in April.

SEE ALSO: Will your name be used for a hurricane this year?

"The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Strong El Ninos and wind shear typically suppress development of Atlantic hurricanes, so the prediction for weak conditions points to more hurricane activity this year. Warmer sea surface temperatures also tend to fuel hurricanes as they move across the ocean. However, the climate models are showing considerable uncertainty, which is reflected in the comparable probabilities for an above-normal and near-normal season.

"Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives," said acting FEMA administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr., who recommended the following preparedness steps:
  • Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens.
  • Know your evacuation route.
  • Tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts.
  • Listen to local authorities as a storm approaches.

The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

NOAA will update this outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

SEE ALSO: How to assemble a hurricane preparedness kit
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