The months that traditionally see the most tropical storm activity are still to come, but energy interests in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) may be breathing a bit easier after Weather Services International (WSI) again lowered its Atlantic hurricane season projections Thursday.

The WSI forecast team said it now expects a total of 15 named storms to form in the Atlantic Basin, including eight hurricanes, three of them major (Category 3 or higher), in what it still believes will be a moderately active hurricane season.

“Although it has seemed like a relatively slow season so far, it is important to remember that 70% of all named storms and 80% of all hurricanes in the past 10 years have occurred after Aug. 15, so the heart of the season is still on the way,” said WSI Chief Meteorologist Todd Crawford. “North Atlantic temperatures are still relatively warm, and the chances of an El Nino event (which would act to stifle tropical development) continue to drop, so we do still expect a moderately active season. Our analysis suggests that the odds of a ‘hyperactive’ season like 2005 and 2010 are quite low at this point, but that a season comparable to many seasons in the recent active-period era (since 1995) is still likely.”

In its first forecast of the Atlantic hurricane season, WSI had called for 19 named storms, including nine hurricanes, five of them major (see Daily GPI, April 9). The forecasters subsequently trimmed that prediction to 16 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four of them major (see Daily GPI,June 28) and last month lowered their forecast numbers to 16/8/3 (see Daily GPI, July 29).

The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season, which officially began June 1 and ends Nov. 30, has so far produced five named storms.

The first named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Andrea, formed in the eastern GOM on June 5 and quickly traveled North, causing little damage as it hurried up the East Coast. Tropical Storm Barry formed almost two weeks later in the southern GOM and made landfall near Veracruz, Mexico. Tropical Storm Chantal formed off the east coast of South America on July 7 but was downgraded to a Tropical Wave well before reaching the Florida coast days later. Tropical Storm Dorian formed in the eastern Atlantic and dissipated before reaching the Caribbean in the last week of July.

Last week, Erin, the fifth named storm of the season, was briefly a Tropical Storm before breaking up in the central Atlantic (see Daily GPI, Aug. 19).

While the consensus forecast has been for above-average tropical storm activity this year, forecasters have been moderating their pre-season predictions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which initially said it expected 13-20 named storms, including seven to eleven hurricanes, three to six of them major hurricanes, recently revised its forecast to 13-19 named storms and six to nine hurricanes, three to five of them major (see Daily GPI, Aug. 9; May 24). Those forecast numbers would still make the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season more active than the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, NOAA said.

The Colorado State University forecasting team, which had initially estimated 18 named storms, including nine hurricanes, four of them major (see Daily GPI, April 11), recently said they now expect one less hurricane and one less major hurricane by season’s end.