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Updated Hurricane Forecast Still Predicts ‘Above Normal’ Season

As the Atlantic hurricane’s peak season begins, conditions in the Atlantic basin continue to indicate it will be “above normal” this year, federal scientists said Thursday. If those predictions come true, it will be the seventh straight year with an above-normal season.

The forecast indicates there could be 14 to 20 named storms, with six to 10 becoming hurricanes supporting winds of at least 74 miles per hour, said Matthew Rosencrans, chief hurricane forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Three to five of those can become major hurricanes, with winds of 111 miles per hour or more, which correspond to categories 3, 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

The updated forecast calculates a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, slightly lower than the forecast for the season in May.

The announcement follows a relatively calm start to the hurricane season, with no major storm developing in the Atlantic. All three storms mentioned this year were “shorties” or ephemeral storms lasting less than 48 hours and with minimal impact.

However, it’s not uncommon for storms to increase later in the summer, after ocean waters have warmed more and can fuel large, churning storms. The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although it peaks between mid-August and October, when 90 percent of tropical storm activity usually occurs.

Thursday’s forecast was based in part on a climate pattern called La Niña, which has been in effect intermittently since 2020 and affects several aspects of the weather, including extending drought in the western United States. La Niña conditions could “improve Atlantic hurricane activity,” Mr. Rosencrans said, in part because of changes in wind direction and speed.

Scientists have documented a number of ways that climate change alters cyclonic storms, making them more powerful and destructive. Hurricanes bring greater amounts of rain, which can exacerbate flooding. And because warmer waters feed hurricanes, the zone in which these storms can form also expands from the tropics and into subtropics and the mid-latitudes.

“It only takes one landfall storm to devastate a community,” Mr Rosencrans said, referring to when a stormy eye crosses the shoreline. “Now is the time to know your risks, develop a plan and be prepared for potential tropical storms or hurricanes ahead.”

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