NOAA released it’s prediction with a caution to Atlantic and Gulf Coast residents to make a plan and be prepared.
Dr. Gerry Bell is NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster. He says last year was also an above normal season, but this year the storms are forecast to be stronger and longer-lasting.
“We’re indicating a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms, seven to eleven hurricanes, and of those we expect three to six major hurricanes. So this is a lot of activity we’re predicting this season.”
Bell says there are three climate factors that contribute to the forecast. The first is an ongoing set of wind and air pressure patterns that have been in place since 1995. The second is warmer Atlantic ocean temperatures.
“And thirdly, El Nino is not expected to form this year. El Nino is a Pacific Ocean climate phenomenon, but it very effectively suppresses hurricane activity. Without El Nino, there’s really no suppressing factor this year.”
When making their announcement, NOAA officials stressed the importance of preparedness for people living in hurricane zones.
In April, Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project released its hurricane forecast, also predicting an above average season.