Posted on 22 May 2009
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in a conference call on Thursday that the 2009 hurricane season will be "near-normal," with four to seven of the storms forming in the Atlantic Ocean.
Overall, the season will probably bring nine to 14 named storms to the Atlantic, and as many as three of them will be major hurricanes, meaning winds of 111 mph (178 kph) or more on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, NOAA said.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. A year ago, NOAA accurately predicted a 2008 hurricane season that would be more active than normal, with as many as nine of the storms forming in the Atlantic. In August, they raised the prediction to as many as 18 named storms.
A storm gets a name once it has sustained winds of 39 mph or greater.
Last year’s season produced an above-average 16 named storms, eight of which became hurricanes. Of those, five were major hurricanes. A typical season has 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, according to NOAA.
NOAA also said the eastern Pacific hurricane season may be normal or below normal.
There is a 70 percent chance of 13 to 18 named storms in the region, including as many as 10 hurricanes, at least two of which may be major, NOAA predicts.
The government’s Atlantic forecast is in line with other predictions. All the forecasters cite cooler water temperatures in the Atlantic and a weak El Nino system in the Pacific as contributing to a less active season.
El Nino is a patch of warmer-than-usual water in the Pacific that influences upper-atmosphere winds in the Atlantic and can diminish hurricane development there.
Last month, Colorado State University predicted 12 named storms in the Atlantic this year, with six becoming hurricanes.
Accuweather.com, based in State College, Pennsylvania, forecasts 10 named storms and six hurricanes.