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Two groups of independent forecasters have issued their preliminary forecasts for the upcoming hurricane season, which runs from June through November. Both groups are predicting above average activity of 15–17 storms, of which 8–9 will become hurricanes.

They attribute this to record warm sea surface temperatures that are expected to remain warmer than normal through the hurricane season. In a normal year, there are about 10 storms and 6 hurricanes. Last year was a below normal year with 9 storms and 3 hurricanes, none of which made landfall along the U.S. coastline.

However, these forecasts have very low skill, meaning that you shouldn’t put much faith in their exact numbers. The skill typically increases as we near hurricane season much like the confidence in a weather forecast is much higher one day out versus seven days out, so the updated numbers in June will carry more weight. Moreover, high storm numbers don’t translate to assurances of a major hurricane strike. For example, in 1995, we had 19 storms but only 1 major hurricane landfall (Opal). In 2004, we had 15 storms and 3 major hurricane landfalls (Charley, Ivan, and Jeanne).