WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration issued a forecast Thursday for an active or extremely active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, in its hurricane season outlook, forecast a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher) -- of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher."
That would put 2013 well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, NOAA said.
"With the devastation of Sandy fresh in our minds, and another active season predicted, everyone at NOAA is committed to providing life-saving forecasts in the face of these storms and ensuring that Americans are prepared and ready ahead of time." Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA acting administrator, said.
Three climate factors that strongly control Atlantic hurricane activity are expected to combine to produce an active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season, NOAA said.
-- A continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong west African monsoon, responsible for an ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995.
-- Warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
-- El Nino is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation.
"This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes," Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said.