Nearly 50 percent more named storms, hurricanes expected this year than recent years

A cloudy sky is seen with the moon hanging low over the sky during a rainy day at the Cocoa Beach area beach in Florida, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Eric Draper) The National…

Nearly 50 percent more named storms, hurricanes expected this year than recent years

A cloudy sky is seen with the moon hanging low over the sky during a rainy day at the Cocoa Beach area beach in Florida, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is predicting an above-average hurricane season this year.

More than a dozen storms, including two major hurricanes, are predicted.

“The consensus of six-person technical advisory panels at the Hurricane Research Division, Tropical Meteorology Project and Climate Prediction Center recommend an above-normal season with 14 named storms, 3 to 5 hurricanes and 1 to 2 major hurricanes.

“At the same time, significant uncertainty exists regarding the hurricane season and future atmospheric and oceanic conditions as we progress through late August and early September,” the NHC said.

The 2018 hurricane season, the first since Hurricane Florence, ended on Nov. 30. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

While the Atlantic hurricane season ended on Nov. 30, there have been a record number of tropical storms in 2018, according to the agency.

Seven tropical storms formed this year, the most since 1997.

A strong El Niño system developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean during September and October, which affected tropical weather patterns and may have played a role in a series of destructive hurricanes.

The first hurricane of the year, Lee, was forecast to form in early May but was classified as a tropical depression late on May 29.

Lee was tropical storm at the time but the NHC upgraded it to a tropical storm on May 30 after it briefly upgraded El Niño, which could have been either the culprit or a minor contributing factor.

Lee formed in a southeast to southeast quadrant, the “outer edge of the tropical development belt,” which is usually associated with slower-moving storms.

At the same time, the left edge of the tropical development belt was above normal.

Julia and Winston, the fifth and sixth storms of the year, formed in the western Atlantic, where the basin is normally dominated by slower-moving storm.

“In the tropical Atlantic and the middle of the tropical Atlantic, there has been an influx of subtropical moisture and upper-level winds, which has benefited the development of tropical systems,” the NHC said.

A hurricane hunter aircraft on June 14 also detected a weakening Hurricane Gonzalo in the western Atlantic. The NHC considers it a strong tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

All five hurricanes of 2018 were classified as tropical storms when they were formed.

Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall on Sept. 18. It ripped off roofs, killed hundreds of people, and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Hurricane Florence battered the East Coast in September.

Florence would eventually be downgraded to a tropical storm before making landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 14. The Carolinas and Virginia were badly impacted.

Florence was a Category 2 storm on Sept. 8 when it formed. A week later, it intensified to a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph. It killed dozens of people as it ravaged the Southeast, wiping out roads and bridges.

And the following Hurricane Michael brought widespread damage to Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina in October.

Hurricane Michael hit in October as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph, sparing Virginia and South Carolina from major impacts.

Tommy Wilkins, chief operations officer at the Center for Disaster Management Technology, discussed how best to prepare for hurricanes.

He said, “The focus has been on learning and preparing for disasters, but unfortunately, that also leaves us unprepared for what could be one of the most powerful hurricane seasons in the past 10 to 15 years.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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