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Forecasters call for below-normal Atlantic hurricane activity this year

Forecasters are calling for a quieter-than-average hurricane season this year, as the possible formation of El Niño over the next few months could keep a lid on storm development. In the Atlantic basin, the hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year.

According to an outlook released April 5 by AccuWeather, the upcoming season could witness the formation of 10 named storms, five of which are likely to become hurricanes and three of which could become major hurricanes.

"The big factor is going to be the fact that we now believe El Niño will come on board some time during the summer and will continue all the way through the rest of the hurricane season," AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said in the forecast.

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 in length and causing episodes of strong westerly winds in the tropical Atlantic, which inhibit the development of storms.

A separate forecast released April 6 by Colorado State University also indicates below-normal hurricane activity for the Atlantic basin this year, as current neutral conditions are likely to transition to a weak or moderate El Niño by the peak of the hurricane season in the late summer to early fall.

For the upcoming storm season, the forecasters from CSU are projecting 11 named storms, four of which are likely to become hurricanes and two of which could become major hurricanes.

"We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean," the CSU forecast noted.

The Accuweather forecasters said they expect two to four tropical storms could impact the United States, particularly the coastal sections of the northern Gulf of Mexico, including Florida and the Southeast coast.

In 2016, the Atlantic hurricane season saw 15 named storms, seven of which became hurricanes.