WASHINGTON - U.S. weather officials are increasing the likelihood of an “above normal” hurricane season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said now that the El Nino has ended, it means wind patterns and other environmental conditions are more favorable for developing storms. In May, they forecast a normal season, one or two fewer named storms and hurricanes.
They said there could be between 10 to 17 named storms. Initially, they predicted nine to 15. Among those, NOAA forecasters predict between five to nine of those named storms will become hurricanes, and two to four of those would become major hurricanes. They previously predicted between four to eight named storms will become hurricanes.
Forecaster Gerry Bell says the end of El Nino means more hospitable hurricane conditions. El Nino is the periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that affects weather worldwide and dampens storm activity.
On average, the Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six turn into hurricanes, including three major hurricanes (Category 3 or above), according to NOAA.
Hurricane season is June through November. Two named storms – Andrea and Barry – formed so far during the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.
This story was written in Tampa, Florida. The Associated Press contributed to this report.