Below-Normal Atlantic Hurricane Season Likely: NOAA

A below-normal Atlantic Hurricane season with between three to six hurricanes is likely for 2015, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA's forecast is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of six to 11 named storms, with zero to two major hurricanes.

Hurricane season officially runs June 1 through Nov. 30. But this season's first storm, Tropical Storm Ana, came ashore in North Carolina earlier this month, bringing rain from Virginia to South Carolina. It did not cause any major problems.

This will be the 10th hurricane season since hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast.

Administrator Kathryn Sullivan joined Joe Nimmich, deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu at a news conference Wednesday to release the forecast.

"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," Sullivan said.

The weather phenomenon called El Nino generally means fewer hurricanes. But the head of the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, Mike Halpert, said in March that this year's El Nino is happening late and is weak.

University of Colorado scientists William Gray and Philip Klotzenbach said in April that they expect one of the least active seasons since the mid-20th century, based on the chance of an El Nino of at least moderate strength this summer and fall. Their early prediction was for seven named storms, three of them hurricanes, and one of those hurricanes major.

In an email Tuesday, Klotzbach said the El Nino has strengthened considerably since March.

"At this point, it is best to characterize it as a moderate-strength event, and we anticipate the event to likely be strong by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season," he wrote. "A strong El Nino will likely significantly reduce storm formation in the Atlantic basin."

El Nino is a warming in one part of the central Pacific. It changes weather patterns worldwide. In addition to fewer Atlantic hurricanes, El Ninos are associated with flooding in some places, droughts elsewhere and generally warmer global temperatures.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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