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The Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1, will be near or below normal for 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
The “2014 U.S. Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook” issued by the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center calls for a 50% chance of a below-normal season, a 40% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of an above-normal season.
For the six-month season that lasts through November, NOAA predicts a 70% likelihood of eight to 13 named storms, which have sustained winds of 39 mph or higher, of which three to six could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, including one to two major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5 and winds of 111 mph or higher, the center said in a statement.
The expected storm numbers are below the 1981-2010 seasonal average of 12 names storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, the center said.
Although the outlook expects the likely development of El Niño, one uncertainty in the outlook is exactly when it will develop and how strong it will become, said the center in its release.
“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the tropical Pacific are already taking on some El Niño characteristics,” Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in the statement.
In April, the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University said this year’s Atlantic basin hurricane activity would be below average, with nine named storms forecast during the season.
NOAA also forecast near-normal or above normal hurricane seasons for the Eastern and Central Pacific.