HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The predictions are out: an above-average Atlantic hurricane season is expected. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its outlook Thursday, predicting an "active or extremely active" season this year. Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and lasts through the end of November, with August and September typically being the most active months.
For the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is predicting thirteen to twenty named storms (winds of 39 miles per hour or higher), of which seven to eleven could become hurricanes (winds of 74 miles per hour or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 miles per hour or higher).
Colorado State University's pre-season forecast predicts eighteen named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes, compared to North Carolina State University's prediction of thirteen to seventeen named storms, seven to ten hurricanes and three to six becoming major hurricanes.
NOAA says they expect near-perfect ingredients to come together to produce an active season this year. They expect a continuation of the current atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong west African monsoon that is responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995. Also expected are warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which would be a source of fuel to tropical systems. El Niño is not expected to develop this season; El Niño typically suppresses hurricane development in the Atlantic.
Last year, NOAA predicted a near-normal season with nine to fifteen named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to three major hurricanes. How did that compare to what actually happened? The 2012 season got a very early start; the first name storm developed on May 19- the earliest date of formation for a named storm since 2003. This was just the beginning of what would become a well-above average season; there were a total of nineteen named storms, ten of which became hurricanes and two becoming major hurricanes.
Because of the 2012 season's early start, NOAA made a few changes on the mid-season outlook, changing the predictions to twelve to seventeen named storms, five to eight hurricanes and two to three major hurricanes. Though closer, those estimates still fell well short of what actually happened.
With these predictions, now is the time to make sure you and your family have a plan in place in case a hurricane threatens our coast.