Forecasters expect ‘above-normal’ Atlantic hurricane season

The high winds and rain of Hurricane Matthew roar over the waterfront of Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

MIAMI (AP) – U.S. government forecasters expect warm ocean waters will fuel an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. Two to four hurricanes could be “major” with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

Acting NOAA Administrator Ben Friedman says atmospheric conditions suppressing hurricane development could be weak or non-existent this year over the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

The six-month Atlantic storm season officially starts June 1. A rare April tropical storm formed this year over the open ocean.

National Weather Service Deputy Director Mary Erickson says high-resolution hurricane model upgrades should provide “much improved” forecast guidance this year.

Friedman says a new weather satellite will help forecasters see developing storms in greater detail.

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