May 24 (UPI) -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday there's a 75 percent chance this year's Atlantic hurricane season will be near or above normal.
NOAA forecasters issued their outlook Thursday, which gives a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said improving technology allows scientists to be more accurate with their projections.
"With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm's way is unprecedented," Ross said.
"The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts."
NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes. Between one and four major hurricanes, those at Category 3 or greater, are expected this year.
The average hurricane season sees 12 named storms and six hurricanes.
Acting Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Daniel Kaniewski recommends people in hurricane-prone areas like Florida and coastal Texas to prepare ahead of the upcoming storm season.
"Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector and the public," Kaniewski said. "It only takes one storm to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have a communication and evacuation plan?"
The 2017 season was above average and included several major storms in the Southeast and Caribbean -- including Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Thursday's report dovetails mostly with an analysis at Colorado State University last month that predicted a slightly above-average season.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.