MIAMI, May 27 (UPI) -- Forecasters say the 2015 hurricane season will bring a surge of storms to the Pacific region while the number of storms in the Atlantic region will remain below normal.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's meteorologists said the central Pacific region, which includes Hawaii, could expect five to eight tropical cyclones during the hurricane season, which begins Monday and runs through Nov. 30. An average season has up to five cyclones. The eastern Pacific region will also see above-normal tropical activity, with 15 to 22 named storms, of which seven to 12 are expected to become hurricanes.
At the same time, the Atlantic region should expect six to 11 named storms, of which three to six could have hurricane-strength winds, forecasters said Wednesday. Of those, up to two could become major hurricanes, in categories 3 and higher.
"A below-normal season doesn't mean we're off the hook. As we've seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities," said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, referring to the 1992 season when Hurricane Andrew devastated south Florida. There were only seven named storms that year.
In the Pacific region, El Nino, which brings warm waters and can alter wind and pressure patterns, is the driving force behind the uptick in storms.
"El Nino decreases the vertical wind shear over the tropical central Pacific, favoring the development of more and stronger tropical cyclones. El Nino also favors more westward-tracking storms from the eastern Pacific into the central Pacific. This combination typically leads to an above-normal Central Pacific hurricane season," NOAA said.
Forecasters also said El Nino is already playing a role in the Atlantic season by suppressing wind and pressure.
"El Niño may also intensify as the season progresses, and is expected to have its greatest influence during the peak months of the season. We also expect sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic to be close to normal, whereas warmer waters would have supported storm development, said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.