Though NOAA predicts fewer Atlantic hurricanes this year, another pre-June tropical cyclone might be headed our w

The Atlantic might be a little quieter for hurricanes this summer, federal forecasters say.

The 2012 prediction released today was a welcome reprieve for Lowcountry residents, who have already seen one tropical storm swirling off the coast and may face another one before the June-November season officially begins.

Tropical Storm Alberto threatened the region last weekend.

A second storm, that was strengthening in the Florida Keys today, is forecast by some models to become a tropical cyclone and come up the Southeast coast.

The models suggested a 40 percent chance of the Florida keys storm becoming a tropical system, said meteorologist Blair Holloway, of the National Weather Service, Charleston.

Those forecasts would bring some type of storm into the Lowcountry sometime over the holiday weekend, he said. “We’re certainly keeping our eye on it.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers predict a 70 percent chance of a “normal” season comprised of:

- 9-15 named storms. - 4-8 becoming hurricanes.

- 1-3 becoming major hurricanes with winds 111 mph or higher.

By NOAA’s reckoning, a normal season produces 12 named storms, six hurricanes, three of which are major.

“But regardless of the outlook, it’s vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared,” said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco in a news release that noted 2012 is the 20th anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Andrew, which occurred in a relatively calm year for the storms.

In 2011, 19 named storms formed, seven became hurricanes and four of those major hurricanes.

It was the 12th year in the past 16 that more hurricanes occurred than the long term average.

Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier.

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