April 5 (UPI) -- A cooling of ocean waters over the next several months should lead to a slightly above-average Atlantic hurricane season this year, meteorologists predicted Thursday.
Colorado State University forecasters Philip Klotzbach and Michael Bell expect 14 named tropical storms during the 2018 season -- seven that will likely become hurricanes. The average hurricane season sees 12 named storms and six hurricanes.
The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, though storms have been known to occur outside that window.
The team believes three hurricanes will be strong enough to become major hurricanes -- Category 3 and above -- and there is a 63 percent chance a major hurricane will hit the U.S. East Coast.
Though it likely will be a more active season than normal, the Colorado State team predicts a quieter season than last year, when there were 17 tropical storms -- 10 of which turned into hurricanes. Three -- major hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria -- wreaked havoc on several U.S. states and territories, most notably Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida.
Last year, CSU forecasters predicted a below-average season with 11 tropical storms producing just four hurricanes.
"Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted," the CSU report said Thursday.
The above-average season is because the United States is expected to be in a "weak La Niña" weather pattern. The warming of Pacific Ocean waters through El Niño tends to lead to a weaker hurricane season in the Atlantic, while La Niña has the opposite affect.
The National Hurricane Center's list of names for the 2018 hurricane season are: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie and William.