What to Know
- NOAA is giving a 45 percent probability for an above-normal hurricane season
- Early predictions call for up to 17 named storms and up to nine actual hurricanes, two to four of which could be major
- The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including four major hurricanes
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an above-normal 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, with between 11 and 17 named storms expected.
NOAA is giving a 45 percent probability for an above-normal season, with a 35 percent probability for a near-normal hurricane season and a 20 percent probability for a below-normal season.
Five to nine hurricanes are predicted; two to four of them could be major, with sustained wind gusts of 111 mph or higher.
An average season produces 12 named storms; six of those become hurricanes, including three major ones.
"The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including four major hurricanes.
Strong El Ninos and wind shear typically suppress development of Atlantic hurricanes, so the prediction for weak conditions points to more hurricane activity this year, NOAA said. Also, warmer sea surface temperatures tend to fuel hurricanes as they move across the ocean. That said, the climate models are showing considerable uncertainty, which is reflected in the comparable probabilities for an above-normal and near-normal season, NOAA said.
NOAA says it will update its outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of hurricane season.