NOAA forecasts less-active hurricane season

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Conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, NOAA said Thursday from Miami at its Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, home to the Hurricane Research Division.

For the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher). Of those, one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5). Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

“NOAA’s outlook predicts a less-active season compared to recent years,” NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a statement. “But regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.”

Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that devastated South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named storms.

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