MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As we enter the heart of the hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has bumped up its prediction for the number of storms we’ll see this year.
NOAA initially forecast called for 10-16 named storms, 4 to 8 hurricanes, and 1-4 major hurricanes.
In their updated prediction, forecasters now expect a 70 percent chance of 12 to 17 named storms, of which 5 to 8 are expected to become hurricanes, including 2 to 4 major hurricanes. They say the 2016 hurricane season is expected to be strongest since 2012.
The seasonal averages are 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.
“We’ve raised the numbers because some conditions now in place are indicative of a more active hurricane season, such as El Niño ending, weaker vertical wind shear and weaker trade winds over the central tropical Atlantic, and a stronger west African monsoon,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
NOAA forecasters say less conducive ocean temperature patterns in both the Atlantic and eastern subtropical North Pacific, combined with stronger wind shear and sinking motion in the atmosphere over the Caribbean Sea should keep the season from becoming extremely active.
Bell adds that if La Niña conditions develop, where there’s a slight chance they will, they will most likely be weak and have little impact on the hurricane season.
To date, there have been five named storms, including two hurricanes (Alex and Earl). Four made landfall: Bonnie (in South Carolina), Colin (in western Florida), Danielle (in eastern Mexico), and Earl (in Belize and Mexico).