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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If their forecast is right, it looks like were in for a near average hurricane season this year.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2016 outlook on Friday.

NOAA predicted that there will likely be 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher) which is a pretty wide range.

If the named storms, they think 4 to 8 could will become hurricanes and between 1 and 4 will develop into major hurricanes – Category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph and up.

NOAA said a near-normal season is most likely with a 45 percent chance, there is also a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season. Included in today’s outlook is Hurricane Alex, a pre-season storm that formed over the far eastern Atlantic in January.

“This is a more challenging hurricane season outlook than most because it’s difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “However, a near-normal prediction for this season suggests we could see more hurricane activity than we’ve seen in the last three years, which were below normal.”

The official start of the hurricane season is June 1st and it runs for six months.

Download The CBS4 Hurricane Guide (English)

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Download The CBS4 Hurricane Guide (Spanish)

The 2015 season was slightly below average with 11 named storms, including two tropical storms that made landfall and caused flooding in South Carolina and Texas. Hurricane Joaquin, one of two storms to reach major hurricane strength, killed all 33 mariners aboard a cargo ship that sank off the Bahamas in October.

The last major hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland was Hurricane Wilma, which cut across Florida in 2005. Since then, the population in the 185 coastline counties most threatened by hurricanes has grown 8.7 percent to 59.2 million people, according to U.S. Census estimates.

Rising sea levels are expected to increase the vulnerability of coastal communities to flooding from tropical systems. While some aspects of hurricane development still aren’t fully understood, recent research indicates climate change is likely to make hurricanes more intense in the future.

Improved computer models show that warming atmospheric conditions may hinder tropical cyclone development worldwide, says David Nolan, a University of Miami professor of atmospheric sciences.

But the hurricanes that do form could grow more intense because ocean temperatures will be higher, Nolan says. Warm ocean waters feed hurricanes like fuel in an engine.

“The ones that do occur could be a little bit stronger,” Nolan says, “but the changes over the next 10, 20, 30 years would be very small, almost undetectable.”

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