atlantic ocean 8-9-18

A satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean on August 9, 2018. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Fewer storms are likely to form in the Atlantic basin this year than was predicted in May, forecasters said Thursday — another tweak in their continually evolving science of hurricane prediction.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called for:

  • 9 to 13 named storms with winds of 39 mph or greater.
  • 4 to 7 could become hurricanes with winds at least 74 mph.
  • 0 to 2 could become major, or catastrophic hurricanes, with winds at least 111 mph.

In May, the administration called for:

  • 10 to 16 named storms.
  • 5 to 9 becoming hurricanes.
  • 1 to 4 becoming major hurricanes.

The mid-season prediction joins other forecasts that have stepped back from early season storm numbers.

The weird thing is, last month was more active than normal, with two whirling up.

Still, cool seas that hamper storm development, and winds that shear apart the storms, continue to dominate the tropical Atlantic where most tropical systems form.

So far this year, hurricanes Beryl and Chris have formed, along with sub-tropical storm Alberto and Tropical Storm Debby, which was spinning on Thursday in the north Atlantic off Canada.

NOAA, like the other forecasters, cautioned coastal residents to get ready and stay alert, saying the update does not predict the number of storms that could make landfall.

The hurricane season runs from June through November, but its busiest two-month span runs from mid-August to mid-October.

"There are still more storms to come. The hurricane season is far from being over. We urge continued preparedness and vigilance," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Reach Bo Petersen Reporter at Facebook, @bopete on Twitter or 1-843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.