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Updated Hurricane Forecast

Article was added on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season has been relatively uneventful with only five named storms to date. But a hurricane forecast now says this could be the most active season since 2012.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now predicts 12 to 17 named storms, up from the 10 to 16 noted in its initial forecast released in May.

"We've raised the numbers because some conditions now in place are indicative of a more active hurricane season," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Bell cited dissipation of the warming El Niño atmospheric conditions, weakening vertical wind shear and trade winds over the central tropical Atlantic, and strengthening monsoon conditions in West Africa as contributing factors.

But conditions elsewhere are also expected to prevent extreme tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Basin, said Bell. Those include ocean temperatures less conducive to storm development in the Atlantic and eastern subtropical Pacific, and atmospheric and wind shear patterns over the Caribbean Sea.

NOAA also announced Aug. 11 that development of the La Niña effect is expected to cool ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific region.

"Given these competing conditions, La Niña, if it develops, will most likely be weak and have little impact on the hurricane season," added Bell.

Of five named storms so far in 2016, two, Alex and Earl, developed hurricane strength winds. Alex, a rare January hurricane, dissipated at sea. Earl caused flooding and landslides in Belize and Caribbean Mexico, Aug. 9-10. Tropical storms Bonnie and Colin brought heavy rain to parts of South Carolina and Florida between May 29-June 7, and Tropical Storm Danielle hit eastern Mexico, June 20.

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