A “near-normal” forecast has become an “above-normal” forecast as this year’s hurricane season enters its peak period.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday upgraded its forecast for the season, which started June 1 and will end Nov. 30.
“Forecasters believe that current ocean and atmospheric conditions, such as record-warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures, are likely to counterbalance the usually limiting atmospheric conditions associated with the ongoing El Nino event,” the federal agency said in a news release.
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When the season got underway in June, NOAA scientists said odds had improved that a potentially significant El Nino weather phenomenon would form, which typically means less tropical activity.
But Thursday’s release said, “So far, those limiting conditions have been slow to develop and climate scientists are forecasting that the associated impacts that tend to limit tropical cyclone activity may not be in place for much of the remaining hurricane season.”
An average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, with seven hurricanes and three reaching major status. NOAA said Thursday that 14 to 21 named storms are now forecast this year, up from an earlier prediction of 12 to 17 named storms.
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NOAA is now predicting six to 11 hurricanes, up from an earlier forecast of five to nine. Also, the new forecast said to expect two to five major hurricanes. Named storms are defined as having wind speeds of 39 mph or higher.
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