Federal forecasters on Thursday upgraded their outlook for this Atlantic hurricane season to include two more named storms than previously predicted.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects an 85 percent probability of an above-normal season – up from 65 percent in May.
In its August update, NOAA said there was a better than average chance of 14 to 18 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to six hurricanes of at least Category 3 strength, which would be top sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
So far this year, five named storms, including two hurricanes, have formed. The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
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In May, the federal outlook called for 12 to 16 named storms, six to nine hurricanes and two to five major ones. An average season has 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
Atmospheric and ocean conditions are ripe for an above-normal season, said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md.
The peak months of hurricane season are August through October.
Noted hurricane researcher William Gray revised his Atlantic forecast on Tuesday, calling for 17 named storms, including nine hurricanes, this season. The former Colorado State University climatologist said five of the hurricanes will be major.