Forecasters predict a 35% chance of an above-normal season, a 40% chance of a near-normal season and a 25% chance of a below-normal season for the period which extends from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Advances made in hardware and computing over the past year will give NOAA scientists 'unprecedented' ability to predict the path of storms and warn those in harm’s way, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. 'The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.'
Some cruise destinations still recovering from 2017 storms
For cruise operators and the Caribbean, the 2017 season was unprecedented. Though most cruise destinations bounced back remarkably quickly, some are still struggling as the new season looms.
NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70% likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), and said five to nine could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including one to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher).
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
The possibility of a weak El Nino developing, along with near-average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, are two of the factors driving this outlook. These factors are set upon a backdrop of atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are conducive to hurricane development and have been producing stronger Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995.
Eastern and central Pacific forecast
In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. An 80% chance of a near- or above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions.
The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of 14 to 20 named storms, with seven to 12 expected to become hurricanes, including three to seven major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of three to six tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.