According to information released at a press conference Thursday, NOAA is projecting 10-16 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, 1-4 major hurricanes and near/above normal overall activity. One to four hurricanes could be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
The government's forecast is in line with an earlier forecast released by Colorado State University last month.
If that forecast holds, it would make for a near-normal or above-normal season.More news: Trump increases economic isolation of Venezuela after Maduro reelection
While predictions are important in preparing for hurricane season, the figures can be deceptive.
"No matter what, everybody needs to be prepared because, as we say every year, 'it only takes one, ' and one tropical cyclone that affects you directly can really wreck your whole year", Ballard said. Previous year was a very active season with 17 tropical storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes.
Last year, three exceptionally powerful hurricanes made landfall: Harvey struck Texas; Irma devastated the Caribbean and southeastern USA - creating a massive "tree graveyard" in the Everglades; and Maria walloped the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. It expected two to four major hurricanes; in fact, there were six major hurricanes, three of which made landfall as powerful storms. But there is a chance of the phase entering an El Niño phase later this season.
Cooler Pacific waters during La Nina years create conditions more favorable to sustain hurricane formation, meaning there are minimal wind shear conditions.More news: Boston Celtics: Winners and losers from Game 6
Hurricanes Irma and Maria also spread a wide path of destruction past year.
When the pressure difference is lower than average, hurricanes are more likely to form. These winds blow the tops off of developing thunderstorms found within tropical systems, slowly tearing them apart.
"It was a break after a couple of really busy years in 2015 and 2016 with multiple threats to the Hawaiian Islands", Ballard said. The eastern tropical Atlantic, where a good number of storms develop, is actually cooler than average. "That's why the Caribbean and the US coast are more at risk".
But the water is expected to warm up to at least average, which would encourage hurricane development, as storms thrive off warm water.More news: Iran Undecided Whether It Will Stay In JCPOA
Seven tropical cyclones tore through the Central Pacific in 2016 and 16 tropical storms were recorded in the region in 2015.
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