Officials predict mild Atlantic hurricane season

There is a 70 percent chance that this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be “below normal,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA predicted that there would seven to 12 named storms — tropical storms and hurricanes — this season. Three to six of those will be hurricanes, and at most two will be major hurricanes, NOAA said.

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The predictions released Thursday were an update to NOAA’s initial forecasts, released in May. Then, it predicted only a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season.

“We are more confident that a below-normal season will occur because atmospheric and oceanic conditions that suppress cyclone formation have developed and will persist through the season,” said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, in a statement.

“Nonetheless, tropical storms and hurricanes can strike the U.S. during below-normal seasons,” he said. “We urge everyone to remain prepared and be on alert throughout the season.”

Bell cited Hurricane Arthur, which reached 100 mph winds in early July, as an example of a major hurricane.

NOAA’s forecasts take into account the two named storms that have already formed in the Atlantic Ocean, hurricanes Arthur and Bertha.

The predictions do not include the Pacific Ocean, where 11 named storms have formed. NOAA predicted in May that there would be 14 to 20 named storms in the Pacific.