The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center predicted that this year's Atlantic hurricane season could generate much more activity than in recent years, including 1 to 4 major hurricanes.
While the predictions are for "near-normal" activity, the season could appear more active, as the past 3 years were below normal.
NOAA also said this year brings higher levels of uncertainty than usual. According to NOAA's lead seasonal hurricane forecaster Dr. Gerry Bell said this year it will be more "difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development."
Statistically speaking, NOAA predicts a 45% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 25% chance of a below-normal season. Storm predictions include: 70% likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms. Of those, 4 to 8 could become hurricane and 1 to 4 of those hurricanes could be major (winds of 111 mph or higher). (January's Hurricane Alex is included in the outlook.)
The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. However, peak storm periods vary geographically. In the Eastern Caribbean and along the U.S. East Coast, the season is usually busiest between mid-August and mid-September. In the Western Caribbean, the peak season begins mid-September and stretches into early to mid-November.