Two months into the hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration slightly lowered its predictions, but insisted we still face an active season.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center now calls for the likelihood of 14 to 20 named storms instead of its May preseason outlook of 14 to 23. It also predicts eight to 12 hurricanes, down from eight to 14; and three to six major hurricanes (winds at least 111 mph), down from three to seven.
"The preseason outlook predicted the possibility of more storms earlier," said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. "Since we didn't get that, we lowered the higher number since you can only get so much activity from August onward."
Bell cautioned the public not to get too wrapped up in the specific predictions and continue to stay prepared for what could be the 11th above-normal hurricane season in the past 16 years.
"Please don't make it a numbers game," he said. "We're still predicting an above-active hurricane season."
So far this season there have been three named storms, including Hurricane Alex. Bell said high wind shear over the Atlantic has largely stifled the early-season hurricane formation.
The updated NOAA forecast comes a day after Colorado State University forecasters Phil Klotzbach and William Gray released their updated seasonal forecast, which was unchanged from their June forecast. They continued to call for 18 named storms, including 10 hurricanes, five of them major.
Klotzbach and Gray said they continue to predict above-average activity this season because of unusually warm tropical Atlantic sea-surface temperatures and the development of La Niña.
Emily Nipps can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8452.