HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) --Hurricane season is still over six weeks away, but we're already getting some idea of what the upcoming season might bring.
Tropical meteorologists at Colorado State University released their preseason hurricane outlook. Forecasters are expecting 11 tropical storms to form in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Of those, about four could strengthen into hurricanes, and two of those could become major hurricanes with winds over 110 mph. That's slightly less than the long term averages.
"We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean," wrote lead forecasters Philip Klotzbach and Michael Bell.
"As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted," they added.
Klotzbach and Bell based their prediction on the expectation that water temperatures in the central Pacific will warm, what is often referred to as El Nino conditions. That tends to increase wind speeds over the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart developing storms. They also noted that parts of the Atlantic Ocean are currently cooler than normal.
ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller points out that the water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are already much warmer than normal and could allow storms to form or strengthen quickly over that body of water.
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According to Tim, there's a history of that happening. The last major category 3 hurricane to hit Houston was Alicia in 1983. That storm developed just south of Louisiana and made landfall in Galveston just three days later with winds over 115 mph, killing 22 people and causing over $2 billion in damage.
Hurricane season officially begins June 1.