Hurricane season begins and forecasters say it’s likely to be above-normal


The 2017 hurricane season starts Thursday and forecasters say it will likely be above-normal.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

Experts predict two to four major hurricanes, five to nine hurricanes and 11 to 17 named storms. An average season produces three major hurricanes, six hurricanes and 12 named storms.

“[Our] 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,” Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said.

The Atlantic saw an above normal season in 2016 with 15 named storms including seven hurricanes (Alex, Earl, Gaston, Hermine, Matthew, Nicole and Otto), four of which were major hurricanes (Gaston, Matthew, Nicole and Otto).

Hurricane Matthew was named the tenth-most destructive hurricane to hit the United States. In South Carolina, the Category 5 storm caused four deaths and at least 800,000 power outages. A National Weather Service survey team reported at least 70 beachfront homes damaged along a 1.5 mile stretch of Palmetto Boulevard on Edisto Beach.

In North Charleston, downpours from Tropical Storm Hermine set a new rainfall record of 2.22 inches.

Here are the hurricane names for the 2017 season:

The official 2017 S.C. Hurricane Guide can be downloaded here.

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