CCU officials update their hurricane forecast

Coastal Carolina University officials said Monday that their prediction of a slow hurricane season continues to hold true.

“Basically, things are holding steady,” said Len Pietrafesa, who oversees the Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) Project at Coastal Carolina University, which began last year.

Officials continued to predict a “below to near normal” hurricane season, but did adjust their calculations from the outlook released in April, according to Monday’s announcement. Officials reduced their predictions from five to four named hurricanes this season.

A low-pressure system currently off the coast of Florida could become the first named storm of the season -- Arthur -- if it becomes more organized. That could create a rainy, windy start for the long holiday weekend along the coast, but forecasters aren’t expecting the system to cause major problems.

In the first CCU prediction scenario, officials said no hurricanes are expected to make landfall on the East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico, while in the second scenario one hurricane could make landfall along the East Coast and in the Gulf.

It is the second year that CCU officials have released a prediction forecast for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30.

The outlook predicts that there will be between eight to 11 tropical storms, three to six hurricanes and one to two major hurricanes this season, according to the release. The outlook will be updated in July and August.

No major hurricanes made landfall during the 2013 season and only tropical storms impacted land in the U.S.

The HUGO program also can predict the track and intensity of hurricanes that are five days from making landfall, officials said. The model uses statistical storm data from 1950 and the calculations are based on 22 factors that include oceanic and atmospheric activity as well as shoreline development.

Joey Holleman of The (Columbia) State contributed to this report.