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Forecasters predict fewer hurricanes in 2017

An early forecast for the 2017 hurricane season has predicted a slightly below-average number of named storms this year.

The forecast, released yesterday by Colorado State Univesity, estimates that the Atlantic will experience around 11 named storms in 2017, based on present conditions and trends from over the past three decades.

Of those storms, four are expected to reach hurricane strength and two are expected to become major hurricanes, reaching Category 3 strength or stronger.

The estimates are slightly below the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

However, the report noted that it was impossible to “precisely predict” the season this early in the year, adding: “We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem. There is a general interest in knowing what the odds are for an active or inactive season.

“One must remember that our forecasts are based on the premise that those global oceanic and atmospheric conditions which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons.”

One factor cited for the estimates is the potential return of El Niño, a weather phenomenon that causes high wind shear in the Atlantic that can inhibit the development of tropical storms.

Meanwhile, the waters in the North Atlantic are reportedly colder than average, which is unfavourable for the growth of hurricanes.

“The tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past month and the far North Atlantic is relatively cold, potentially indicative of a negative phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation,” the report stated.

“We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”

Despite the estimate of a quieter-than-average hurricane season, the report cautioned that even a single storm can be devastating. “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them,” the report warned. “They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

The 2017 Hurricane Season officially begins on June 1.