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Here’s why we may see more storms this hurricane season than first forecast

Hurricane forecasting, hazards and the what you need to know about seasonal outlooks

In this 2013 video, National Hurricane Center Hurricane Specialist Unit Branch Chief James Franklin provides an overview of the hurricane hazards and the importance of not using the seasonal outlook to prepare for the season.
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In this 2013 video, National Hurricane Center Hurricane Specialist Unit Branch Chief James Franklin provides an overview of the hurricane hazards and the importance of not using the seasonal outlook to prepare for the season.

Batten down the hatches. It could be a busier storm season than forecasters initially thought.

The number of named storms forecast for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season has seen an uptick, according to weather authorities, who released an update Wednesday that showed a greater likelihood for more activity.

“The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010,” according to an article on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.

The amount of named storms went from 11 to 17 forecast for the year up to 14 to 19, weather authorities said.

Forecasters are now saying a 60-percent chance exists of the above-average season where as in May, a 45-percent chance loomed. Major hurricanes predicted jumped up from two to five, instead of two to four, forecasters said, who also stated an expectation of 5-9 hurricanes for the year remains 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 said in update released Wednesday. “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 Niño forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May.”

Bell said more factors leading to the possible uptick include warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than earlier models indicated, as well as more activity from available models.

Information in the update is based on current and changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions, forecasters said, and stated the recent numbers announced include the most up-to-date in season activity.

According to weather authorities, so far the season has seen six named storms: “Arlene in April; Bret and Cindy in June; Don and Emily in July; and Franklin in August,” the article states.

Cindy and Emily both struck the U.S. this summer. Cindy hit the Louisiana-Texas border on June 22 at, generating heavy rainfall, flooding, and tornadoes when she landed. Emily rolled onto land in Anna Maria Island, Fla. Franklin was the first hurricane of the season and churned into a Category 1, before making landfall in Mexico overnight and weakening to a tropical storm, according to the Associated Press.

Six named storms in the first nine weeks of the season is half the amount of named storms, and also double the storms that usually form by early August, forecasters say.

As time inches closer toward the peak of the season when hurricanes are generally more frequent and typically the strongest, NOAA encourages all coastal residents to ensure preparedness and keep an eye on forecasts.

“Today’s updated outlook underscores the need for everyone to know their true vulnerabilities to storms and storm surge,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long in the NOAA article on Wednesday. “As we enter the height of hurricane season, it’s important for everyone to know who issues evacuation orders in their community, heed the warnings, update their insurance and have a preparedness plan.”

Horry County residents can visit the county government website for preparedness tips, and to learn about evacuation zones.

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