WASHINGTON – Forecasters expect a slower-than-average Atlantic hurricane season this year.
The outlook released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a normal season and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. The six-month hurricane season begins June 1.
There is a 70 percent likelihood there will be eight to 13 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, according to NOAA. Three to six of those storms could become hurricanes, including one or two major hurricanes. A hurricane has winds of 74 mph or higher, and major hurricanes have winds of 111 mph or higher.
The seasonal average from 1981 to 2010, according to NOAA, is for 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
“The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Nino this summer,” according to a NOAA press release. “El Nino causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes.”