The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters have predicted a very busy Atlantic hurricane season.
The forecasters are calling for 20 percent chances of a below-normal season; 35 percent chances of a typical year; and 45 percent chances of an active year in the tropics.
Those predictions break away from previous forecasts of a below-normal season, based primarily on the expectations that El Niño was developing.
NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, Gerry Bell, said the outlook “reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Niño” and warmer-than-normal or normal water temperatures spread across the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic.
Forecasters are also predicting 70 percent chances of 11 to 17 named storms forming; five to nine of those storms becoming hurricanes; and two to four of them becoming major hurricanes.
There are about a dozen named storms in a typical season, which are capable of producing winds up to 39 miles per hour; three major hurricanes capable of producing at least 111 miles per hour winds; and six hurricanes capable of producing at least 74 miles per hour winds.
The Tropical Meteorology Project and AccuWeather.com predicted earlier forecasts of a quieter season, with four to six hurricanes and 10 to 11 named storms. However, these predictions were made when only a likely moderate El Niño pattern was going to develop.
Forecasters are thinking that it is possible that El Niño will not develop this year and if it does it will be weak. Meteorologists believe an El Niño is caused by abnormally warmer waters in the Pacific Ocean that lead to weather intensities worldwide, which in turn causes the emergence and development of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic.
Emergency and weather officials recommend for residents to start preparing for potential flooding, power outages and strong winds that hurricanes and tropical storms can bring.
“Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives,” acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr. said in a statement.
Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through November 30. Last month, Tropical Storm Arlene formed over the eastern Atlantic.