NOAA predicts more active hurricane season in update

By Allen Cone  |  Aug. 9, 2017 at 1:53 PM
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Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The hurricane season in the Atlantic will be more active than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its latest update released Wednesday.

The federal agency now predicts 14 to 19 named storms this year, which is an increase of the 11 to 17 storms it forecasted in May.

There have been six named storms so far this year, including Tropical Storm Franklin, which is expected to make landfall in Mexico on Wednesday night as a hurricane.

NOAA said two to five of the storms will likely be major hurricanes. In May it estimated there would be two to four major hurricanes this storm season.

A prediction for five to nine hurricanes, excluding tropical storms, remains unchanged from the May outlook.

In an average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, there are 12 named storms -- of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

Experts believe this season could be the most active since 2010, when there were 19 tropical storms and 12 hurricanes, including Category 4 Igor. Only the 2005 season, which included the Category 5 Katrina, saw more activity: 28 named storms.

One senior forecaster at the agency outlined a few reasons for NOAA's revised notice released this week.

"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. "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 Nino forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May."

He said other factors include tropical Atlantic waters that are warmer than what models previously predicted and higher predicted activity from available models.

NOAA urged U.S. coastal residents be prepared for the season.

"Today's updated outlook underscores the need for everyone to know their true vulnerabilities to storms and storm surge," Brock Long, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, said. "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."

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