Forecasters predict a "near-normal" hurricane season with four to eight Atlantic hurricanes this year.
During this year's hurricane season — June 1 to Nov. 30 — there is a 70 percent chance of nine to 14 named tropical storms, of which four to eight will become hurricanes with one to three becoming major hurricanes, said The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday.
An average hurricane season produces 12 named tropical storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes, according to NOAA.
This year's season got an early start when Tropical Storm Alberto formed off the Carolinas on May 19. Alberto is the third tropical storm to form prior to the official start date of the season in the past 31 years.
"NOAA's outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years," said Administrator Jane Lubchenco. "But regardless of the outlook, it's vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew."
Andrew was a Category 5 hurricane that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992. It was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named tropical storms.
"Another potentially competing climate factor would be El Niño if it develops by late summer to early fall. In that case, conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak months (August-October) of the season, possibly shifting the activity toward the lower end of the predicted range," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
by RTT Staff Writer
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