Forecasters expecting near-normal hurricane season for Atlantic in 2018

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There's a 35% chance that this hurricane season will be above normal, a 40% chance for a near-normal season, and a 25% chance for a below-normal season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which released its forecast for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season on Thursday.

Some forecasters are calling for a potential weak El Nino, which would create a little more wind shear in the atmosphere over the Atlantic and Caribbean, not allowing storms to grow huge and thrive. "The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts". Above normal tropical activity means more moisture in the eastern Pacific.

"We're looking at an 80 percent chance of near-to-above normal tropical storms in the Central Pacific", Ballard said during the Wednesday announcement of the 2018 Central Pacific Hurricane Season Outlook. The warm waters fuel strong winds above the tropical Atlantic Ocean, which make it hard for storms to organize into cyclones. One to four of those hurricanes could be classified as major - category three or greater on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale with maximum sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. "We use all the data we can get", says Dr. Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. If that happens, the number of storms could be on the higher end of the predicted range, according to NOAA.

The upcoming hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through November.

Last year, three exceptionally powerful hurricanes made landfall: Harvey struck Texas; Irma devastated the Caribbean and southeastern USA - creating a massive "tree graveyard" in the Everglades; and Maria walloped the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.

NOAA plans to update its outlook in early August, just before the typical peak of the season.

Maria devastated Puerto Rico and Dominica.

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In May of 2017, for example, NOAA predicted 11-17 named storms and 5-9 hurricanes, of which 2-4 would become major hurricanes.

They warned that during an active season, the Gulf coast, Atlantic coast and Caribbean are at an increased threat for hurricanes, as more will form and theyll travel further west.

The following visualization shows the estimates as bars from low to high predictions, mapped against dots representing the actual number of storms.

1 to 4 major hurricanes.

Bell added, "We know certain areas have been compromised from last year's storms, and that makes hurricane preparedness even more important this year".

The names for Atlantic storms are defined by the World Meteorological Organization.

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