While most forecasters are projecting a quieter-than-usual hurricane season this year in the Atlantic Basin, Colorado State University officials have increased their forecast and are now looking for average storm activity over the next few months.
The Atlantic Basin hurricane season, which officially kicks off June 1 and runs through Nov. 30, is likely to feature 13 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher.
The CSU forecasters said the probability of a major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 55% of the long-period average along the United States coast and in the Caribbean.
"We have increased our forecast and now believe that 2017 will have approximately average activity. The odds of a significant El Niño in 2017 have diminished somewhat, and portions of the tropical Atlantic have anomalously warmed over the past two months. While the tropical Atlantic is warmer than normal, the far North Atlantic remains colder than normal, potentially indicative of a negative phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation," the CSU forecast said.
El Niño is the periodic warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific waters and occurs every two to five years, on average, typically lasting about a year and causing episodes of strong westerly winds in the tropical Atlantic, which inhibit the development of storms during the hurricane season.
In its latest monthly update and diagnostic discussion issued May 11, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lowered its chances for the redevelopment of El Niño during the second half of the year, indicating there is now a less than a 50% chance of its recurrence by the late summer or early fall.
In 2016, the Atlantic Basin hurricane season saw 15 named storms, seven of which became hurricanes.
The CSU forecasters are scheduled to issue their next hurricane outlook July 3.