Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Thursday they expect 13-20 named storms to form during “an active or extremely active” Atlantic hurricane season this year, including seven to eleven hurricanes, three to six of them major (Category 3 or higher).

Those forecast numbers would make the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1, more active than the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, NOAA said.

“This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic Basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions include weaker wind shear, warmer Atlantic waters and conducive winds patterns coming from Africa.”

NOAA’s hurricane prediction dovetails neatly with a forecast issued by earlier this month (see NGI, May 20). forecasters said they expect 16 named storms, including eight hurricanes, four of them major, to form in the Atlantic Basin, with as many as three hurricanes making landfall in the United States. Where those hurricanes might make landfall remains unclear, they said.

The Weather Services International forecast team recently said it expects 16 named storms, including nine hurricanes, five of them major, to form this year (see NGI, April 15). And forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) have said they expect the upcoming hurricane season will have more activity than the median 1981-2010 season, with an estimated 18 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four of them major.

The CSU forecasters estimate a 61% probability for at least one major hurricane to track into the Caribbean this year, compared with a 42% average over the last century. The probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall between the Florida Panhandle and South Texas near Brownsville is an estimated 47%, compared with 30% over the last century, and there is a 48% probability of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. East Coast.

The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season produced 19 named storms, including 10 hurricanes, one of them major, continuing a decades-long high-activity era in the Atlantic Basin (see NGI, Dec. 3, 2012). It was the second consecutive year that the mid-Atlantic and Northeast suffered devastating impacts from a named storm, but it was the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricanes hit the United States. Despite the devastation to New Jersey and New York, Hurricane Sandy was only a Category 2 when it hit land. Hurricane Isaac was the only storm in 2012 to cause significant disruption to energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico (see NGI, Nov. 12, 2012).

NOAA compiled it’s latest hurricane outlook using improved forecast models and data gathering, and it plans to bring online a new supercomputer in July that will provide significantly enhanced depictions of storm structure and improved storm intensity forecast guidance.

“With the more powerful operational computers we expect to run more detailed models that will help produce even more accurate forecasts of hurricanes and events throughout the year,” said Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

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