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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday issued another dire warning about the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, predicting that the Atlantic Ocean could see 17 to 25 named tropical cyclones this year, the most ever predicted for May.

The NOAA forecast is combined with more than a dozen recent predictions from experts at universities, private companies and other government agencies. Forecast probability of 14 or more named storms This season, many expected more than 20.

Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said: Thursday morning press conference The agency’s forecasters believe eight to 13 of the storms could become hurricanes, meaning they would have winds of at least 74 mph. That could include four to seven major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher), with winds of at least 111 mph.

Debris from Hurricane Idalia, one of the strongest storms of 2023, is left in Florida’s Big Bend region last August.Credit…Zach Wittman writes for The New York Times

According to NOAA, There is a 10% chance of an above-normal season and a 10% chance of a near-normal season. The chance of a below-normal season is 5%. On average, an Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, including 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

While it only takes one storm to devastate a community during a below-average season, with nearly twice as many storms as average, North America is more likely to experience tropical storms or, worse, major hurricanes.

This year’s list of official storm names has 21 entries; From Alberto to WilliamIf that list is exhausted, the National Weather Service will turn to ShortlistIt has only had this happen twice in its history.

A devastated scene in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Ian in 2022.Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

NOAA typically releases a May forecast and then an updated forecast in August. Before Thursday, NOAA’s most significant May forecast was in 2010, when it predicted 14 to 23 named storms; that year, 19 ultimately formed by season’s end. In 2020, the May forecast was for 13 to 19 named storms, but the updated forecast in August was higher, with 19 to 25 named storms. That season ended with 30 named storms.

The hurricane outlook this year is particularly fierce as unprecedented conditions are expected.

As forecasters look ahead to the official start of the Atlantic monsoon on June 1, they see a combination of conditions not seen since the mid-1800s: record-high Atlantic water temperatures and the potential for a La Niña weather pattern to develop.

Without precedent for similar situations, forecasters can only extrapolate from previous anomalies when predicting future hurricane seasons, said Brian McNoldy, an expert on hurricane formation at the University of Miami.

Experts are concerned about rising sea temperatures.

“I think all the systems are set up for an active hurricane season,” said Phil Klotzbach, a seasonal hurricane forecaster at Colorado State University.

The key region for Atlantic hurricane formation has been unusually warm before the start of hurricane season. Benjamin Kirtman, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami The situation described previously is “Unprecedented,” “worrying,” and “out of bounds.”

Those temperatures have been rising gradually over the past century. But last year, the region of the Atlantic Ocean where most hurricanes form warmed faster and with greater intensity than climatologists are concerned about. The region, which stretches from West Africa to Central America, was warmer this year than it was before the start of last year’s hurricane season, which produced 20 named storms.

Current temperatures in the Atlantic are worrisome because it means the ocean is ready to provide additional fuel for any storms that form. Even with the sudden cooling of the surface, temperatures below the surface are significantly above average and are expected to quickly reheat surface temperatures.

These warmer temperatures can provide energy for storms to form and help sustain them. Sometimes, if there are no other atmospheric conditions that prevent storms from forming, storms can intensify more quickly than usual, leaping to hurricane status in less than a day.

Combined with the rapid fading of the El Nino weather phenomenon in early May, rising temperatures have forecasters increasingly confident this year’s hurricane season will be unusually heavy with storms.

The end of El Niño and the possible emergence of La Niña have increased confidence in weather forecasts.

El Nino is caused by changes in ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and affects global weather patterns. When it is strong, it usually hinders the formation and development of storms. Last year, warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean weakened the impact of El Nino. If El Nino fades as forecasters expect, this monsoon will not be affected much.

Forecasters who specialize in studying the evolution of El Niño, including Michelle L’Heureux of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, are not only highly confident that El Niño will fade, but also that there is a high chance (77%) that La Niña will develop during the peak of hurricane season.

She said the system could bring unexpected changes, but that it is spring and conditions are just as forecasters predicted. The La Nina weather pattern has them expecting above-average weather this year. The potential for La Nina, combined with record sea surface temperatures this hurricane season, is expected to create a strong environment for storms to form and intensify this year.

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