FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The peak of hurricane season may produce more dangerous storms than originally predicted, federal hurricane forecasters said Thursday, as oceanic and atmospheric conditions become more favorable for the production of hurricanes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased its forecast for hurricane season to five to nine hurricanes, up from its forecast of four to eight issued at the beginning of the season, the agency announced in a Thursday phone call with reporters.
The main reason for the increase was the news of the end of the Pacific Ocean phenomenon called El Nino, said Gerry Bell, NOAA's lead hurricane season forecaster. This periodic increase in ocean temperatures has worldwide impact, including the production of the high-level wind shear that can tear up hurricanes before they can form. Without El Nino, it will be easier for hurricanes to come together.
NOAA announced the worsened expectation in its forecast for the peak of hurricane season, the span from mid-August to late October, which typically produces the vast majority of hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30
During the busy season, a procession of storms roll across the Atlantic from the coast of Africa, some with the potential for strengthening into tropical storms or hurricanes.
So far the season has produced a single hurricane, Hurricane Barry, which struck the Louisiana coast in July as a weak Category 1 storm.
Most forecasts had previously called for an average to below average season. At the beginning of the season, NOAA predicted four to eight hurricanes.
The National Hurricane Center said there's little chance over the next five days for the formation of tropical cyclones, the rotating storms that range in strength from tropical depressions to hurricanes.
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