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2018 hurricane season expected to be ‘closer to normal’

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The 2018 hurricane season is expected to be “closer to normal,” in comparison with the volatile 2017 season, a meteorologist said Tuesday.

James Aman, senior meteorologist with Earth Networks Inc., made his comments during a webinar. The Germantown, Maryland-based company operates weather and climate sensor networks worldwide.

Mr. Aman said Earth Networks’ forecast for the 2018 hurricane season calls for 10 to 15 tropical storms, five to eight hurricanes, with two to four becoming major hurricanes. Mr. Aman said this was “very close to normal or slightly above normal.”

“The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was very active,” Mr. Aman said. “We had 17 tropical storms, 10 hurricanes, six major hurricanes, and three of those hurricanes hit the United States. Hurricane Harvey caused extensive and catastrophic flooding in Texas. Hurricane Irma hit Florida with extremely strong winds and then Maria just devastated Puerto Rico.”

Mr. Aman noted that last year, Earth Networks had called for nine to 13 named storms during the 2017 hurricane season, and three to six hurricanes, with two to three major hurricanes.

The actual season in 2017, Mr. Aman said, “was quite a bit stronger than that and was well above normal.” One of the biggest reasons for the increased hurricane activity was a sudden change from an El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to a La Niña, which is much more favorable to hurricane activity, Mr. Aman said.

Last month, Colorado State University predicted that the 2018 Atlantic basin hurricane season “will have slightly above-average activity.” The forecast called for 14 named tropical storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or greater during the 2018 Atlantic tropical weather season.

“We anticipate a slightly above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” the Colorado report said. “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them.”