Near-normal hurricane activity is expected in the Atlantic basin this storm season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
This season's atmospheric and ocean conditions should result in between nine to 15 named storms, including four to eight hurricanes. One to three of those hurricanes are likely to become major storms, with winds in excess of 111 mph.
Some factors at play this year favor storm development, while other factors may inhibit storm formation, according to NOAA. Factors that favor development include:
- Active storm cycle: Since 1995, overall conditions associated with higher-than-normal activity have been in place in the Atlantic basin. That trend will continue this year.
- Current conditions in the Main Development Region: Sea surface temperatures are near average across much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, known as the Main Development Region. Warmer sea surface temperatures provide hurricanes with some of the "fuel" they need to develop and strengthen.
Factors potentially working against storm development this year include:
- Strong wind shear. Wind shear is any change in wind speed or direction along a straight line. Strong wind shear tears apart storms before they develop.
- Current conditions in the far eastern Atlantic. Cooler sea surface temperatures have been detected in the far eastern Atlantic. Cooler water inhibits the development of storms.
- Possibility of El Nino in late summer. Scientists believe an event known as El Nino -- which involves a warming of sea temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean -- could develop in late summer or early fall. Such conditions tend to inhibit storm development.
The Atlantic storm season officially begins today -- June 1 -- and runs through Nov. 30.