The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it could be a pretty active one.
NOAA forecasters are predicting a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 20 percent of a below-normal season, the agency announced Thursday.
The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes, according to NOAA.
For this season, forecasters predict a 70 percent chance of 11 to 17 named tropical storms to develop in the region.
A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph or higher, and forecasters say there’s a 70 percent chance of five to nine of them developing this year.
There’s also a 70 percent chance of two to four major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5), which have winds of 111 mph or higher.
An average season typically produces 12 named tropical storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes, according to NOAA.
“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.
NOAA will update the hurricane outlook in early August, which is right before the peak of the season.
Michaela Broyles, 843-626-0281, @MichaelaBroyles