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NOAA forecasts most active hurricane season in 7 years

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday said this year’s hurricane season may be the most active since 2010.

Updating its forecast from May, NOAA said there is now a 60% chance of an above-normal season, up from the May prediction of a 45% chance, with 14-19 named storms, an increase from May’s predicted range of 11-17 named storms. In addition, NOAA said forecasters are predicting two to five major hurricanes, up from May’s predicted range of two to four. A forecast of five to nine hurricanes overall remains unchanged from the initial May outlook. 

The update also said the chance of a near-normal season was 30%, down from 35% in May, and the chance of a below-normal season was 10%, down from 20% in May’s outlook.  

There have been six named storms the first nine weeks of this season, NOAA said, half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August.

An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1-Nov. 30, produces 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The Atlantic basin has seen six named storms so far in 2017 — Arlene in April, Bret and Cindy in June, Don and Emily in July, and Franklin in August — according to the statement.

Cindy made landfall on June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border, causing heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks, NOAA said. Emily made landfall on July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Florida, and Franklin weakened to a tropical storm after it made landfall in eastern Mexico early Thursday.

“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Maryland, said in the statement. “The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season. This is in part because the chance of an El Niño forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May.”

Mr. Bell said warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than models previously predicted and higher predicted activity from available models also point to an above-normal season.