NOAA today issued its outlook for the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin, and it isn’t substantially different from two previous predictions from other sources.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, expects 12 to 18 named storms (including hurricanes) to develop this year. Earlier forecasts from Colorado State University (CSU) and Weather Services International (WSI) indicated 16 and 15 named systems, respectively.

NOAA believes 6 to 10 of the cyclones will become full-blown hurricanes. The numbers from CSU and WSI were 9 and 8, respectively.

Somewhere between 3 and 6 of the hurricanes, according to NOAA, should reach major (category 3) status with winds in excess of 110 mph. CSU forecast 5 such monsters, CSI, 4.

Dr. Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for NOAA, points out that “in addition to multiple climate factors [recent high-activity, warmer-than-normal tropical ocean waters and reduced wind shear], seasonal climate models also indicate an above-normal season is likely, and even suggest we could see activity comparable to some of the active seasons since 1995.”

As I pointed out in an earlier blog, the predicted numbers are essentially the same as the averages since 1995 of 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 majors. But Bell suggests the numbers this season could be akin to some of the more memorable ones.

It seems unlikely that in the coming months our coasts should again go unscathed by hurricanes as they did last year in spite of a swarm of storms in the Atlantic Basin.

And since none of the long-range outlooks can tell us where or when a hurricane is likely to strike, the best we can do–the smartest thing we can do–is stay apprised of what’s happening in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico on a day-to-day basis. Pay close attention to the information provided by the National Hurricane Center and various media outlets, including my former employer, The Weather Channel.

Remember, you don’t get a do-over–a Mulligan to golfers–if you make a mistake in the face of a major hurricane.

Photo: The National Hurricane Center is located on the campus of Florida International University in Miami, Florida

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