The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects a “near normal” Atlantic hurricane season.
The outlook, released by NOAA on Tuesday, anticipates nine to 15 named storms, of which four to eight will become hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).
NOAA forecasters say the outlook is based on competing climate factors, citing the weather pattern El Niño as a major player against other forces.
“The ongoing El Niño is expected to persist and suppress the intensity of the hurricane season,” the outlook states. “Countering El Niño is the expected combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and an enhanced west African monsoon, both of which favor increased hurricane activity.
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes, according to NOAA.
The outlook is for overall seasonal activity and not for landfalls, which are only predictable about one week prior to a storm reaching a coastline, according to NOAA.
Forecasters remind coastal residents that it only takes one hurricane striking the coast to make it an active season for them.
“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector, and the public,” said Daniel Kaniewski, Ph.D., FEMA deputy administrator for resilience. “It only takes one event to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have cash on hand? Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have communication and evacuation plans? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”
Some Atlantic basin seasons feature below average activity but still result in a devastating storm, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, while others like 2010 — the third most active season on record — did not feature a hurricane making landfall.
The 2019 Atlantic basin hurricane season begins on June 1 and continues through November 30. The first named storm of the season, Subtropical Storm Andrea, formed on May 20 and dissipated the following day. Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, and Humberto are the upcoming names.
NOAA offers a comprehensive guide on storm preparations.