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NOAA's 2019 outlook: "Near-normal" Atlantic hurricane season

NOAA satellite handout image captured Hurricane Florence in Sept. 2018. Photo: Handout/Getty Images

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 40% chance for a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season — June 1 to November 30, 2019 — determining a 70% likelihood of 9-15 named storms, of which 4-8 could become hurricanes.

The backdrop: This year's outlook comes after 2018's devastating season, with Cat. 5 Hurricane Michael hitting the Florida Panhandle. The average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 progress to hurricanes status and 3 turn into major hurricanes.

Details: The 2019 outlook reflects climate factors including El Niño — anticipated to continue and El Niño tends to increase wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, which can inhibit tropical storm and hurricane formation. Offsetting El Niño is a combination of warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and a heightened west African monsoon, increasing the potential for hurricane activity.

NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins.

  • A 70% chance of an above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions.
  • The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of 15-22 named storms, of which 8 to 13 are expected to become hurricanes.
  • The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70% probability of 5-8 tropical cyclones, including tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

Driving the news: This season marks the addition of NOAA’s Earth-observing satellites, expected to enhance the hurricane forecast models used by forecasters to help users make critical decisions in real time.

Go deeper: The Atlantic Basins tropical storms and hurricanes in 2019