With the hurricane season nearly a week away, forecasters predicted on Thursday an above normal and possibly extremely active year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 13 to 20 named storms for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season which begins June 1 and runs through the end of November.
Of those named storms, they said seven to 11 could become hurricanes with wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour. Three to six of those could become major storms ranked a Category 3 or higher with wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour.
The ranges are higher than the seasonal average of 12 named storms with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said the higher numbers are due to uncertainty at whether there will be a large number of short-lived storms or a smaller number of long-lived storms.
The above average number of storms is caused by the combination of the atmospheric climate pattern and warmer-than-average water temperatures.
El Niño, which is known to suppress hurricane activity, is also not expected to form this season.
These factors combined produce lower wind shear, lower air pressure and a set of wind patterns that are very conducive to huricane formation and intensification, Sullivan said.
"There are no mitigating factors that we can see that would suppress the activity," said Lead NOAA Forecaster Gerry Bell.
Officials stressed the importance of preparing for the coming season.
"I really want to emphasize that the news today really is not about percentages," Sullivan said. "The important news today is about preparedness. Now is time to think ahead about the huricane season that is coming."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends keeping 72 hours of food and water on hand, and planning evacuation and communication strategies with family members.
National Hurricane Preparedness Week begins May 26. For continuous weather updates, download the NBC 6 Weather App here.
2013 Storm Names: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, Wendy
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