NOAA now expects 10 to 17 named storms this year -- with two to four becoming major hurricanes. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased the odds for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season Thursday in an update to the forecast it gave nearly three months ago.
Now that El Nino has ended, conditions are more favorable for more frequent and stronger named storms as peak hurricane season begins, the organization said.
"El Nino typically suppresses Atlantic hurricane activity but now that it's gone, we could see a busier season ahead," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year."
NOAA said there's now a 45 percent chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, up from 30 percent in the May outlook. The agency now expects between 10 and 17 named storms -- two more than the initial outlook -- with five to nine expected to become hurricanes. Of those, two to four are expected to be major hurricanes, Category 3 or higher.
As of Thursday, there have so far been two named storms -- Subtropical Storm Andrea and Hurricane Barry, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in Louisiana on July 13. Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project also updated its hurricane forecast this week, predicting a slight increase in storms. The Colorado team, though, said even with the new forecast, it expects a near-normal hurricane season.