NOAA forecasters now say hurricane season could be above average
Forecasters now expecting 12 to 17 tropical storms, with five to eight hurricanes and two to three major hurricanes.
MIAMI, United States, Monday, August 13, 2012 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters have boosted their outlook for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, in part due to the season’s strong and early start, reports Reuters.
The latest forecast from the US weather agency now predicts a slightly more active 2012 season as warming seas and the late arrival of El Nino could bring near-normal to above-normal storm activity.
NOAA forecasters said they expected the June-through-November season to bring 12 to 17 tropical storms, with five to eight of those becoming hurricanes and two to three strengthening into major hurricanes.
That was a slight increase from its May forecast when the agency predicted there would be nine to 15 tropical storms, with four to eight becoming hurricanes and one to three strengthening into major hurricanes.
An average year brings about 12 tropical storms with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, formed in May before the season officially began on June 1. There have now been six tropical storms, two of which strengthened into hurricanes, and the season is just entering what is traditionally the most active period.
Sea-surface temperatures are higher than usual in the Atlantic region, which contributes to hurricane formation.
Although the hurricane-squelching El Nino pattern is still expected, it has not appeared yet. El Nino is a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific and brings shearing winds that hamper storm formation in the Atlantic.
The forecasters said it would likely form in August or September and that it would take a few weeks after that for its impact to reach the Atlantic.
"We don't expect El Nino's influence until later in the season," said Gerry Bell, NOAA's lead hurricane season forecaster, according to Reuters.