By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Weather forecasters with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted Thursday a "near-normal" hurricane season this year.
NOAA is predicting a 40% chance that the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, will be "near-normal." The likelihood of an "above-normal" or "below normal" season each stands at 30%.
In all, NOAA is predicting between 12 and 17 named storms this year, including one to four named hurricanes of categories three to five.
“Thanks to the Commerce Department and NOAA’s critical investments this year in scientific and technological advancements in hurricane modeling, NOAA will be able to deliver even more accurate forecasts, helping ensure communities have the information they need to prepare for and respond to the destructive economic and ecological impacts of Atlantic hurricanes,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.
Two major variables, including the El Nino weather system and above-average Atlantic Ocean water temperatures, are vying for influence in this year's hurricane season. El Nino is predicted to form this summer in the Pacific, bringing warmer ocean temperatures that would suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic.
But the Atlantic is expected to have warmer than average surface temperatures this year, producing potential fuel for hurricanes.