NOAA predicts 4-8 Atlantic hurricanes
A satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Irene on August 25, 2011, in the Caribbean Sea.
May 24th, 2012
11:34 AM ET

NOAA predicts 4-8 Atlantic hurricanes

[Updated at 1:19 p.m. ET] A near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is expected this year, with nine to 15 named storms and four to eight hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

Of those four to eight hurricanes, NOAA expects one to three to be major. The Atlantic's six-month season begins June 1, although it got off to an early start this year, with Tropical Storm Alberto moving through the Atlantic off the U.S. East Coast last week.

NOAA also said it predicts a near-normal season for the Eastern Pacific, estimating a 70% chance of 12 to 18 named storms - with five to nine hurricanes, of which two to five would be major - for that area. The Eastern Pacific's season is May 15 to November 30.

A major hurricane, designated as Category 3 or greater, has winds of well above 100 mph. The weakest hurricanes have top sustained winds of at least 74 mph, and named storms have top winds of at least 39 mph.

NOAA officials said uncertainty over whether the El Nino weather pattern will form made it difficult to be more precise in predicting the Atlantic storm season.

"If (El Nino) develops by late summer to early fall ... conditions could be less conducive for hurricane formation and intensification during the peak months (August to October) of the season, possibly shifting the activity toward the lower end of the predicted range,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

The forecasts do not predict how many of the storms will reach land.

Thursday's predictions came as a strengthening Hurricane Bud, churning in the Pacific, appeared poised to bring heavy rain to coastal southwestern Mexico.

It is extremely rare for an Eastern Pacific hurricane to affect the U.S. mainland, though some do have an influence on Hawaii.

Tropical Storm Alberto broke up in the Atlantic this week and another tropical depression was causing heavy rainfall in southern Florida, Bell said. However, he said the early storms were no harbinger of a more active season than normal.

For the Atlantic, a normal season would produce 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Last year saw 19 named storms in the Atlantic.

The Eastern Pacific's average season produces 15 named storms, with eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes, according to NOAA.

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soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Michael Roath

    I'd like to know what scientific data NOAA uses to make these predictions.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      A dart board.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Peabody

      They use statistical models that incorporate the correlation between historical hurricane rates, sea temperature, atmospheric temperature, ocean current patterns, etc. They also use computer simulations. If you really want to know more, go find out. You are one internet search away from learning more.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      So ask NOAA. Duh.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TwM

    With the warmer oceans I don't think NOAA is accurate. Guess we shall see right?

    May 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 2bnfl

    How much do we pay for NOAA? With guesses like this, way too much! NOAA has some great aspects and valid functions for existence, but this portion should be cut. What good is this prediction (not forecast)? We know every year there will some hurricanes; some major and some minor and some tropical storms. WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS? NOW PLEASE FUND MY PREDICTIONS/FORECASTS!!!

    May 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • URClueless

      The NOAA's functions are far greater than your minute interaction with them. They gather data for historical purposes, monitor current conditions, currents, tides etc. You DO realize the NOAA deals a lot with the ocean. Hurricanes are an effect of ocean and atmospheric temperatures. You really are clueless, and quite offensive and forceful with an un-informed opinion....

      May 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Orwell

      Man, you must think your pretty smart from that computer chair. NOAA predictions aren't just for show. Lots of organizations use them to plan from insurance companies to emergency management and public utilities.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jack Myhogoff

    Didn't Al Gore say that we'd all be underwater by now and have daily hurricanes by 2012?

    May 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • LB


      May 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • puckles

      Actually , no; he didn't. You need to get your facts straight. This is why people like you dispute GW. You cannot even get simple facts straight.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DAN

    Hello CNN????? Anybody there at fact check?The photo you show with last years hurricane Irene places it in the Caribbean Sea.That is NOT the Caribbean;that is the Atlantic Ocean!

    May 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Good point!

      May 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rich

    I disagree. I think this year we will see a record number of hurricanes. And I think we will get a couple really big ones come into the Gulf, one after the other. One will be large enough that it will ram it's way all the way North to Missouri while still at tropical storm status and before turning East. This is just something I've been thinking about, no scientific data.. just my opinion based on my observations and the crazyness that is going on in our local Solar System.

    However... if our Sun goes Quad Pole, which it might... then we will most likely be looking at a mini global ice age, in which case the hurricanes will be less, if any.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      The Mayans told you that, right?

      May 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Widow

    Just funny... They can't even predict seasonal weather with accuracy.. Before the winter in Chicago they were saying this was going to be a cold and snow filled winter... We had the warmest on record with below average snowfall. Then in the spring they were routinely 10f off... I mean how can one be 10 degrees off with all the data? They have? Too much data? I don't really get it since every action has an equal reaction with all the wind and climate conditions one would think with current technology they would be more accurate instead of less accurate. Yet they can predict how many hurricanes we are gonna have with accuracy? They cannot even tell me what tomorrows temp is gonna be accurately. Though I will say this last week they have been the most accurate to date this year but a week or two ago they said a high of 74 and it never got above 54... How is that even possible with all the technology and experience they have?

    May 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chuck

    We will have four to eight hurricanes this year. We might have more. We might have fewer. At the end of the season we'll all pat ourselves on the back for our accurate forecast, because no matter how many hurricanes we actually get, we covered our *sses with our prediction.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. madmaninthemiddle

    I predict it will rain.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brad

    Only 3 hurricanes predicted? Get ready for the busiest hurricane season uin years as these guys always get it wrong.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Grumpster

    I seriously think there's something wrong with these stats. I'd say 5-6 major with more like 25 named hurricanes. Come back in 6 months and see who's right. I use the "stick my head out the window" method instead of the "stick my head up my as* method" that NOAA uses.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jdwalshdtv

    So basically we could have 3 Katrinas that make landfall or none at all. That's called a wild guess in my book, not news. I'm such a better informed person for knowing this.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. volsocal

    jeff – You beat me to it! They don't have a clue. Might as well let Al Gore provide the analysis.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JimS

    Reagan's blood was almost used to clone him...John Edwards' is in his 5th day of waiting on the jury to decide his fate...Obama and Romney are in a virtual tie...and we're given somebody's guess work about how many hurricanes may be formed this year. Didn't NOAA have anything better to do with their time and OUR money?

    May 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    First they should not predict this because they are never right. And then insurance companies use this to raise the home owners insurance rates. Its rediculous.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
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