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The 2017 hurricane season starts today and runs through November 30, and forecasters now expect it to be a slightly above normal season, with a between 11 and 17 named storms.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say there’s a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and just a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season. There’s a 70 percent chance of 11 to 17 named storms, forecasters say, of which five to nine could become hurricanes. The “normal” Atlantic hurricane season features 12 named storms.

“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

In April, a rare-preseason storm emerged as Tropical Storm Arlene formed and then fizzled out over the eastern Atlantic. The remaining names for this season’s storms will be Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Phillippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.

Strong El Ninos and wind shear typically suppress development of Atlantic hurricanes, so the prediction for weak conditions points to more hurricane activity this year.

“NOAA’s broad range of expertise and resources support the nation with strong science and service before, during and after each storm to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy as we continue building a Weather-Ready Nation,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “From our expert modelers to our dedicated forecasters and brave crews of our hurricane hunters, we’ll be here to warn the nation every step of the way this hurricane season.”

The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.

“Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives,” said Acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr. “Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared and will make all the difference: Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens; Know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts, and finally, listen to local authorities as a storm approaches.”

NOAA will update their outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

For more information on how to prepare your family and home for hurricane season, check out the National Hurricane Center’s hurricane preparedness site.

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