While images of destruction caused by last year's battery of hurricanes are still fresh in the minds of many Americans, including those living on Puerto Rico where after six months power is not fully restored, forecasters are cautioning the public to brace themselves for another busy hurricane season.
Researchers at Colorado State University predict this will be a slightly above-average season, with 14 tropical storms in 2018. Seven are expected to become hurricanes, which have a wind speed of at least 74 mph. Three of those seven are expected to be major hurricanes, Category 3 or higher, with winds reaching a minimum of 111 mph.
The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1 through the end of November.
"Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted," researchers say.
By comparison, 2017 had a total of 17 named storms — with 10 becoming hurricanes and six of them major hurricanes — including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which ravaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. But that number exceeded forecasters' expectations, including the team from CSU. The university had only anticipated 11 tropical storms with four becoming hurricanes.
Before Harvey made landfall it was predicted as merely a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane with wind speeds up to 85 mph. But within a few days and by the time it hit the ground near Corpus Christi, Texas, it had developed into a Category 4 with 132 mph winds.
"We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane problem," the university said. "There is a general interest in knowing what the odds are for an active or inactive season."
The report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall:
- 63 percent for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52 percent)
- 39 percent for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula (average for the last century is 31 percent)
- 38 percent for the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville (average for the last century is 30 percent)
- 52 percent for the Caribbean (average for the last century is 42 percent)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its forecast in May.
For readers curious about the names of this year's storms the monikers are selected by the World Meteorological Organization and are usually common names associated with the ethnicity of the basin that would be affected by the storms. When a storm is particularly deadly or costly, its name is retired and replaced by another one.
Here are the names you can expect this year: