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Forecasters Predict Above-Average Hurricane Season

NOAA's Hurricane forecast for the 2017 season.
Courtesy of NOAA
NOAA's Hurricane forecast for the 2017 season.

National weather forecasters are calling for an above-average hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today there's a 45 percent chance there will be above-normal storm activity in the Atlantic this year.The agency predicts there will be between 11 and 17 named storms. As many as 9 of those could be hurricanes, and as many as four of those could be category 3 or higher.  


Overall, conditions are favorable for hurricane activity, according to NOAA's Acting Administrator Ben Friedman.


“The expectation for a weak or non-existent El Nino, near or above-average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic, and average or weaker than average vertical wind shear-- these climate conditions typically point to an above-normal season,” he said.


The National Hurricane Center will also start issuing watches and warnings for storm surge this season. NOAA's Acting Administrator Ben Friedman says those alerts can save lives.


“The most dangerous part of a storm is not the wind or the rain,” he said. “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.”


Hurricane Specialist Gerry Bell said there's some uncertainty in the forecast, but climate conditions are favorable for strong storms.


“The bottom line is we're expecting a lot of activity this season,” Bell said. “Whether it's near-normal or above-normal, that's a lot of storms and a lot of hurricanes, so now is the time to make sure you're ready for another potentially active hurricane season.”


Hurricane season officially starts on June 1, but there has already been one named storm in the Atlantic this year.


Copyright 2017 North Carolina Public Radio

Will Michaels started his professional radio career at WUNC.