Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated their hurricane season outlook for the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, saying the upcoming peak season could have above average activity.
Though NOAA slightly reduced its expectations for extreme levels of activity, there have already been four named storms this season – Tropical Storms Andrea, Barry, Chantal and Dorian – and the peak season from mid-August through October has yet to come.
Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said in a released statement that two of the four storms were also formed in the "deep tropical Atlantic," which is a sign of an active season.
"Our confidence for an above-normal season is still high because the predicted atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are favorable for storm development have materialized," Bell said.
Such conditions include warmer sea surface temperatures and a stronger rain season in West Africa that can create wind patterns that create tropical storms and hurricanes, according to NOAA.
The agency's updated outlook predicts that there is a 70 percent chance that there will be up to 19 named storms throughout the entire season (from June 1 to November 30). Between six and nine of those storms are expected to be hurricanes, three to five of which could be major hurricanes with winds of more than 100 mph.
A pre-season outlook in May projected between 13 and 20 named storms, of which seven to 11 could be hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes. On average, there are 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes each season.
Meanwhile, a pre-season outlook for the central Pacific projected a high chance for a below-normal season, with only one to three tropical cyclones expected. Tropical Storm Flossie formed at the end of July in the Pacific Ocean and was downgraded to a tropical depression before it reached Hawaii, bringing heavy rainfall and winds that knocked down trees.
But officials emphasized on Thursday that the peak hurricane season for the Atlantic is still approaching and that residents should remain prepared.
"Hurricane disasters can occur whether a season is active or relatively quiet. It only takes one hurricane (or tropical storm) to cause a disaster," the outlook says. "Residents, businesses, and government agencies of coastal and near-coastal regions are urged to prepare for every hurricane season regardless of this, or any other, seasonal outlook."