Warm sea surface temperatures and a weak or non-existent El Niño will contribute to an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic this year, NOAA announced Thursday, saying that 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes are possible.
The predictions came in the official forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the hurricane season that begins June 1.
“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Niño, near- or above-average sea surface temperatures across the Atlantic, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear,” said Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA.
The prediction of “above normal, or near normal” storm activity will likely put coastal residents on edge. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew — one of the most devastating storms ever recorded — and that came during a below-average season. That should give people pause — and remind them to make a plan and be prepared.
“This season has had a running start,” according to Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. Tropical Storm Arlene formed briefly in April in the north-central Atlantic. An extremely rare occurrence, Arlene was just the second named storm on record for the month of April.