Hurricane forecasters see above-average 2018 USA storm season

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For reference, last year's hurricane activity - which included one major storm after another - was almost two and a half times greater than average.

Colorado State University forecasters expect a "slightly above-average" Atlantic hurricane season in 2018, according to a report released Thursday (April 5). A major hurricane is a Category 3 or above with winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

Last year, 17 named storms and a string of destructive hurricanes pounded Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the southern United States. A stronger El Nino would give us a much needed break from hurricane season.

Three to five of those storms are expected to be major hurricanes. While you can still find a list storm names on their website, the names are now maintained and updated by the World Meteorological Organization.

The next CSU seasonal forecast will be issued on May 31, and the report noted that its forecast accuracy increases as the peak of the season approaches in September.

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"It's important to remember the number of storms and impacts don't really correlate", said Marthers.

The forecast comes long before hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and projections will improve as summer approaches.

The team explained their forecast, "The current weak La Niña event appears likely to transition to neutral ENSO over the next several months, but at this point, we do not anticipate a significant El Niño this summer/fall". "The western tropical Atlantic is anomalously warm right now, while portions of the eastern tropical Atlantic and North Atlantic are anomalously cool". Researchers believe there is a 39 percent chance of a hurricane hitting the East Coast, according to the forecast.

"Last season had near-record warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic", said Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria helped drive total losses to more than US$215 billion in 2017.

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