Forecasts for the hurricane season that gets under way June 1 are rather foreboding.
Both the National Hurricane Center and AccuWeather are predicting an active season, with particularly strong hurricanes expected.
NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is forecasting 14 to 23 named storms – top winds of 39 mph or higher – including 8 to 14 hurricanes. As many as 7 of those could be major hurricanes, with winds of at least 111 mph.
"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
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AccuWeather’s Joe Bastardi is predicting 15 named storms, with 5 becoming hurricanes and 2 or 3 of them making landfall in the U.S.
“I’m expecting a big hurricane season,” Bastardi said. “Last year, we had a big down year. It was very, very dry.”
NOAA’s forecast exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes
A combination of factors are suggesting the potent hurricane season, NOAA officials say: warm Atlantic Ocean waters and weak wind shear in the upper atmosphere are among them.
Wind shear is a measure of directional shifts of winds at different altitudes. Strong wind shear can promote the development of tornadoes but tear apart hurricanes.