Hurricane season starts June 1st. In their annual outlookreleased today, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict that the Atlantic Ocean will see "above average" hurricane activity this hurricane season, which runs through November 30th.
On average, there are 12 named tropical storms during hurricane season. This year, NOAA forecasters say there could could be 11-17 named storms in the Atlantic.
Forecasters consider several factors when making their predictions -- like ocean temperatures, wind shear, and the presence of weather patterns like El Niño, which suppresses hurricane activity when present.
Names NOAA plans to assign to tropical storms, including hurricanes, during the 2017 hurricane season. The first, Arlene, formed in April over the eastern Atlantic -- uncharacteristically early. (NOAA)
NOAA administrator Ben Friedman says warm ocean temperatures and a currently weak El Niño presence contributed to the above-average forecast. But, he says, there are limitations to any hurricane forecast.
“It does NOT predict when, where, and how these storms might hit,” says Friedman, “And if they will make landfall.”
So, while forecasts are fairly accurate at predicting the number of named storms, they can’t tell us anything about the intensity of a given storm, or how many of them will make landfall.
Still, Friedman says it doesn’t take much to cause damage.
“The most dangerous part of a storm is not the wind, is not the rain,” he says, “it’s the flooding and the storm surge that occurs afterward. So we need to be prepared for all of that in the upcoming season.”
For tips on how to prepare for hurricane season visit NOLA Ready.