year’s Atlantic hurricane season got off to a busy start, with six
named storms to date, and may have a busy second half, according to the
updated hurricane season outlook issued last week by NOAA’s Climate
Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.
The updated outlook still indicates a 50 percent chance of a
near-normal season, but increases the chance of an above-normal season
to 35 percent and decreases the chance of a below-normal season to only
15 percent from the initial outlook issued in May.
Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the season – June 1 to Nov. 30 –
NOAA’s updated seasonal outlook projects a total (which includes the
activity-to-date of tropical storms Alberto, Beryl, Debbie, Florence
and hurricanes Chris and Ernesto) of:
12 to 17 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
Five to eight hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
Two to three could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
The numbers are higher from the initial outlook in May, which called
for nine to15 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to three
major hurricanes. Based on a 30-year average, a normal Atlantic
hurricane season produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three
“We are increasing the likelihood of an above-normal season
because storm-conducive wind patterns and warmer-than-normal sea
surface temperatures are now in place in the Atlantic,” said Gerry
Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate
Prediction Center. “These conditions are linked to the ongoing high
activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also, strong
early-season activity is generally indicative of a more active season.”
However, NOAA seasonal climate forecasters also announced last week that El Niņo will likely develop in August or September.
“El Niņo is a competing factor, because it strengthens the vertical
wind shear over the Atlantic, which suppresses storm development.
However, we don’t expect El Niņo’s influence until later in the
season,” Bell said.
“We have a long way to go until the end of the season, and we shouldn’t
let our guard down,” said Laura Furgione, acting director of NOAA’s
National Weather Service. “Hurricanes often bring dangerous
inland flooding as we saw a year ago in the northeast with Hurricane
Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Even people who live hundreds of miles
from the coast need to remain vigilant through the remainder of the
“It is never too early to prepare for a hurricane,” said Tim Manning,
FEMA’s deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness.
“We are in the middle of hurricane season and now is the time to get
ready. There are easy steps you can take to get yourself and your
family prepared. Visit www.ready.gov to learn more.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For a more technical discussion of the NOAA hurricane season forecast, go to