CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The nation's top meteorologists forecast a near-normal or below-normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2014.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center predicts between eight and 13 named storms, between three and six of which are likely to become hurricanes. NOAA also predicts one to two major hurricanes.
The main driver of the outlook, meteorologists say, is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer.
El Niño is a weather phenomenon causing stronger wind shear, NOAA meteorologist say, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen trade winds and increase atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, make it more difficult for cloud systems coming off the coast of Africa to intensify into tropical storms, according to
official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, warns people not to lose sight of the potential for danger.
"It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall to have disastrous impacts on our communities," said Joe Nimmich, FEMA associate administrator for Response and Recovery. "Just last month, Pensacola, Florida saw five inches of rain in 45 minutes - without a tropical storm or hurricane. We need you to be ready. Know your risk for hurricanes and severe weather, take action now to be prepared and be an example for others in your office, school or community."
A storm is named as soon as it reaches tropical storm strength. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its sustained winds reach a speed of 74 m.p.h. or greater. A major hurricane is considered a Category 3 or higher, with a minimum sustained wind speed of 111 m.p.h.
The first named storm of the season will be dubbed Arthur.