This year’s hurricane season will likely be below-normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its forecast Wednesday, but they say there’s no reason for coastal areas to think it will be easy.
The agency predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms for the season which runs from June 1 to November 30. Of those storms, they say 3 to 6 could become hurricanes, including zero to 2 major hurricanes of categories 3 through 5.
“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida.
The main factor expected to suppress this year’s season is El Nino, which NOAA says is already impacting wind and pressure patterns. It’s expected to last through the hurricane season.
Even though the season hasn’t officially started, Tropical Storm Ana came earlier this month.
University of Colorado scientists William Gray and Philip Klotzenbach said in April they expect one of the least active seasons since the mid-20th century.
It’s the 10th hurricane season since Katrina and Rita slammed the Gulf Coast.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)