Forecasters predict near- or above-normal hurricane season

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, May 24, 2018

Alberto, Beryl and Chris will be the first three named hurricanes that could potentially hit the East Coast in what will likely be a near- or above-normal 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will be from June 1 to Nov. 30, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 75-percent chance that this season will be near- or above-normal, according to a Thursday press release. Forecasters predict a 35-percent chance of an above-normal season, 40 percent that it’s near normal and a 25-percent chance that it’s below normal.

An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms with wind of 39 miles-per-hour or higher, six of which become hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph, and typically includes three major hurricanes from categories 3 to 5, with wind speeds of 111 mph or greater.

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This year, forecasters predict a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes, including one to four major hurricanes. Dr. Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, confirmed in a phone conference Thursday that peak hurricane season is mid-August through mid-October, with Sept. 10 the peak date on average.

“People need to start getting ready for this hurricane season,” Bell said. “There’s going to be one to four major hurricanes. That’s a lot of activity.”

A weak or nonexistent El Niño and near-average surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea are factors this year, on top of atmospheric and oceanic conditions that have produced more active hurricane seasons since 1995, according to the press release.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season produced 17 named storms, of which 10 were hurricanes that included six major hurricanes, including the first two majors to hit the U.S. in 12 years, according to noaa.gov. It was the most active season since 2005 and the costliest on record with $282 billion in damages, most of which was caused by Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“The 2017 hurricane season resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, and many areas remain ravaged from last year’s storms,” Bell said in a video on noaa.gov. “This makes hurricane preparedness even more important ahead of the 2018 season.”