(NEW YORK) — Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Thursday released their forecast for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, predicting a near-normal or above-normal season.
The forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher.
Of those named storms, the forecasters predict five to nine could become hurricanes, including one to four major ones.
Hurricanes have winds of 74 mph or higher, and major hurricanes are considered to be at least Category 3.
An average hurricane season brings 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes.
When is hurricane season?
Hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30. Peak hurricane season is from mid-August through mid-October, and the peak date for hurricane season on average is Sept. 10. Hurricanes, however, can occur year-round.
NOAA will update this year’s outlook in early August, just before peak season.
How do hurricanes form?
A group of thunderstorms will feed off the warmth and moisture of the ocean. Air then rises to form more storms and is replaced constantly by the surrounding air.
Below all this air rising, low pressure develops.
The storm will keep growing as long as it has three key ingredients: water temperatures at or above 79 degrees, open water and high pressure above the storm.
The combination of high wind speeds inside the storm, the storm’s forward motion and the storm surge can lead to a disastrous hurricane.
What are the hurricane categories?
Category 1: Winds from 74 to 95 mph, which can damage homes, trees and power lines.
Category 2: Winds reaching 96 to 110 mph. These extremely dangerous winds can uproot big trees, cause serious damage to homes and lead to power outages that last several days to weeks.
Category 3: With winds from 111 to 129 mph, Category 3 is considered a major hurricane. Devastating damage can occur, and electricity and water might be unavailable for several weeks.
Category 4: With winds from 130 to 156, Category 4 hurricanes bring catastrophic damage to homes, trees and power lines, and can make areas unlivable.
Category 5: This is the highest category for hurricanes, with winds reaching 157 mph or higher. These hurricanes cause catastrophic damage by completely destroying buildings and houses, and can make areas completely unlivable.
What happened last year?
Hurricane Harvey pummeled Houston in August, followed by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida in September — both of which left behind severe flooding that destroyed and damaged homes and businesses.
Before the Caribbean could recover from Irma, Hurricane Maria tore through just two weeks later, devastating Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm.
Puerto Rico still hasn’t recovered from Maria. The storm caused massive power outages and destruction to homes, hospitals and water treatment plants.
The current death toll from Maria, according to the Puerto Rican government, is 64, but skepticism has lingered, with some Puerto Ricans and its officials believing the number is much higher.
As of Tuesday, 99 percent of energy customers had access to electricity in Puerto Rico, leaving roughly 14,500 customers still without power.
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