MIAMI - Federal meteorologists predicted a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said an El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, warmer than average sea surface temperatures and an active West African monsoon season provide conflicting indicators about the season which begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.
Forecasters said between nine and 15 named storms are expected this season with four to eight of those becoming hurricanes. Two to four of the hurricanes could reach major status, meaning a Category 3 storm or higher.
On average, 12 named storms occur in the Atlantic each hurricane season with six of them becoming hurricanes and two of those hurricanes becoming major.
A forecast released in April by Colorado State University predicted a slightly below-normal season with 13 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
There has already been one named storm this year. Subtropical Storm Andrea developed Monday in the Bermuda triangle. It fell apart a day later.
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