HurricanesThe Atlantic basin is expected to see an above-normal hurricane season this year, according to the seasonal outlook issued today (May 23) by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  – a division of the United States National Weather Service.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is predicting the following ranges this year:

12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:

6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:

3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)

Each of these ranges has a 70 percent likelihood, and indicate that activity will exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

“The Climate factors considered for making this prediction are:

The continuing high activity era. Since 1995, the tropical multi-decadal signal has brought ocean and atmospheric conditions conducive for development in sync, leading to more active Atlantic hurricane seasons.

Warm Atlantic Ocean water. Sea surface temperatures where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic are up to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer-than-average.

La Niña, which continues to weaken in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is expected to dissipate later this month or in June, but its impacts such as reduced wind shear are expected to continue into the hurricane season.

“In addition to multiple climate factors, seasonal climate models also indicate an above-normal season is likely, and even suggest we could see activity comparable to some of the active seasons since 1995,” says Dr. Gerry Bell,  lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook does not predict where and when any of these storms may hit.

In early April, forecasters at Colorado State University, Dr. William Gray and Dr. Phillip Klotzbac released their Atlantic hurricane forecast for the 2013 season, calling for 18 named storms, 9 of which will be hurricanes.  The Colorado State forecast says of the 9 predicted hurricanes, 4 would be major hurricanes – Categories 3, 4 or 5 – with sustained wind speeds of 111 mph or greater.

Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project has been issuing seasonal forecasts since 1984.

Hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline; strong winds, intense rainfall and flooding  often pose a threat across inland areas.