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NOAA predicts 'busy' Atlantic hurricane season with 3-6 major storms

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and forecasters say it could be a busy one.

WASHINGTON — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters said Thursday that they expect the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season to be a busy one. 

The NOAA's outlook predicts an above-normal season, which officially begins on June 1.

The NOAA predicts there will be 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (74 mph or higher). The NOAA forecasts that there could be between three to six major hurricanes (Storms that reach category 3 or above). 

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes, including three major ones.  

The NOAA said a combination of several factors, including the lack of El Nino conditions, along with warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, increases the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. 

Credit: NOAA
A summary infographic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms predicted from NOAA's 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.

While the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, there's already been one named storm. Tropical storm Arthur sent rain over North Carolina Monday. 

The storm represented another early start for the Atlantic hurricane season. Arthur formed Saturday in waters off Florida, marking the sixth straight year that a named storm has developed before June 1.

Credit: NOAA
A summary graphic showing an alphabetical list of the 2020 Atlantic tropical cyclone names as selected by the World Meteorological Organization. The first named storm of the season, Arthur, occurred in earlier in May before the NOAA's outlook was announced.

The NOAA's acting administrator said the agency's analysis reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year. 

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“Our skilled forecasters, coupled with upgrades to our computer models and observing technologies, will provide accurate and timely forecasts to protect life and property,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator.   

“As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Just as in years past, NOAA experts will stay ahead of developing hurricanes and tropical storms and provide the forecasts and warnings we depend on to stay safe.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.