NOAA predicts near-normal 2019 hurricane season

Weather service says 4-8 hurricanes expected

ORLANDO, Fla. - U.S. weather officials say the Atlantic hurricane season should be near normal.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday predicted nine to 15 named storms in 2019. It said four to eight of them will become hurricanes and two to four of those will be major hurricanes with 111 mph winds or higher.

NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs said a current El Nino, a periodic warming of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide, suppresses hurricane activity in the Atlantic. Other forces, including warmer-than-normal seawater, counter that.

Last year, there were 15 named storms, eight of which became hurricanes. Two of the hurricanes, Florence and Michael, were major hurricanes and both of their names have been retired.

The Atlantic averages 12 named storms a year, with six becoming hurricanes and three major storms.

NOAA said there's a 40% chance of a normal season, with 30% chances of stronger and weaker seasons.

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