Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season has increased to 45%, up from the 30% outlook issued in May, according to an Aug. 8 release.
The chance of near-normal activity is at 35%, while the probability of below-normal activity has decreased to 20%, the release said.
The NOAA is expecting 10 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine will become hurricanes. Two to four of those potential hurricanes could become major hurricanes with wind speeds of 111 miles per hour or greater. An average hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, typically sees 12 named storms, of which six are hurricanes, and three of those are major hurricanes.
The agency also said that the El Niño in the Pacific Ocean has ended and neutral conditions have returned.
"This evolution, combined with the more conducive conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995, increases the likelihood of above-normal activity this year," NOAA lead seasonal hurricane forecaster Gerry Bell said.
The agency said that two named storms have formed so far this year and that the peak months of the hurricane season, namely August through October, are underway. The first storm of the season, Hurricane Barry, made landfall on the Louisiana coast July 13 and then weakened into a tropical depression on July 15.