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NOAA affirms forecast of 'very active' hurricane season

Approaching the heart of hurricane season, government forecasters say indicators are pointing to a potentially "very active" pattern in the tropics, affirming pre-season outlooks.

"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," Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center in College Park, said in a statement. "Also, two of the four named storms to-date formed in the deep tropical Atlantic, which historically is an indicator of an active season."

Conditions including above-average Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a stronger rainy season in West Africa are in place and have led to busy hurricane seasons in years past, according to NOAA.

Forecasters' updated predictions for the numbers of named storms and hurricanes were slightly lower, however, than in a pre-season outlook. They expect 13 to 19 tropical cyclones, six to nine of which could become hurricanes. Three to five of those hurricanes could reach "major" storm strength, with winds of 111 mph or more.

A forecast issued in May set upper limits for each of those categories higher by one storm, but meteorologists reduced it because of lower chances that La Niña will redevelop, a lack of tropical cyclones in July and more variability in Atlantic Ocean wind patterns.

So far, there have been four named storms in the Atlantic, one of which reached the Baltimore area -- Tropical Storm Andrea.

Andrea brought several inches of rain to the region, with 2.25 inches measured at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on June 7. That helped contribute to the wettest June on record since 1972, when Hurricane Agnes struck.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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