FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The year’s hurricane season will be near-average, with the formation of 12 named storms, including five hurricanes making landfall along the U.S. coastline or in the Caribbean, according to a prediction released Thursday.
The chances of one major storm, with sustained winds of 111 mph or higher, striking somewhere in the U.S. is 50 percent, according to scientists at Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science.
The seasonal outlook is based in part on an analysis of ocean water temperatures and the strength of atmospheric phenomena called El Nino and La Nina, according to forecasters. The waters of the far North Atlantic are “quite cold,” forecasters wrote in their outlook, which tends “to force atmospheric conditions that are less conducive for Atlantic hurricane formation and intensification.”
The six-month hurricane season begins June 1. But one out-of-season storm, Hurricane Alex, is already in the books.
The first hurricane to form in January since 1938, Alex developed top winds of 85 mph before falling apart Jan. 15 about 1,000 miles off the coast of Morocco. It did not affect the U.S.
An average hurricane season sees the formation of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, according to forecaster Jack Beven at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
A storm earns a name when it becomes a tropical storm, with minimum sustained winds of 39 mph. The storm gains hurricane status when winds speeds reach 74 mph.
The next tropical storm to form will be named Bonnie.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its seasonal outlook in late May, Beven said.
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