NOAA Lowers 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

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Earlier today, NOAA announced that it has lowered its August Atlantic hurricane season outlook from May’s near-normal prediction, to a near- to below-normal Atlantic hurricane season, as the calming effects of El Niño continue to develop.

NOAA now predicts a 50 percent probability of a near-normal season, a 40 percent probability of a below-normal season, and a 10 percent probability of an above-normal season. Forecasters say there is a 70 percent chance of seven to 11 named storms, of which three to six could become hurricanes, including one to two major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5).

The main change from the May outlook is an increased probability of a below-normal season, and an expectation of fewer named storms and hurricanes. The May outlook called for nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes. During an average season, there are 11 named storms with winds of at least 39 mph, of which six become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or greater and two of those become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.

While the season has gotten off to a slow start with no named storms thus far in the Atlantic, scientists warn that season’s quiet start does not guarantee quiet times ahead with the season, which began June 1, just now entering its historical peak period of August through October.

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