NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Forecasters have released their predictions for the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal, but that's no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.
For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 - November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher). This includes zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.
"A below-normal season doesn't mean we're off the hook. As we've seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities," said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida.
Included in the outlook is Tropical Storm Ana, which made landfall in the Carolinas earlier this month. Its pre-season development is not an indicator of the overall season strength. Ana's development was typical of pre-season named storms, which often form along frontal boundaries in association with a trough in the jet stream, NOAA states.
With the new hurricane season comes a new prototype storm surge watch/warning graphic from NOAA's National Hurricane Center, intended to highlight areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation by storm surge from a tropical cyclone.
The new graphic will introduce the concept of a watch or warning specific to the storm surge hazard.
NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.