NOAA Hurricane Forecast 2013: 20 Atlantic Storms Predicted For 'Extremely Active' Hurricane Season [REPORT]

By Staff Reporter on May 23, 2013 11:46 PM EDT

Hurricane
Hurricane Sandy (Photo: NOAA)

The NOAA hurricane forecast bears some bad news-- federal forecasters are predicting an "unusually wild" hurricane season.

Announced on Thursday, the NOAA hurricane forecast estimates the number of Atlantic storms this year will range anywhere from 13 to as high as 20. What's more, seven to 11 of the storms will strengten into hurricane while as many as six will upgrade to major hurricanes. Driving the point home, NOAA predicts a 70 percent chance that the 2013 hurricane season will be significantly more active than average.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Kathryn Sullivan emphasized the significance to residents living in hurricane prone regions along the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico: "This is your warning."

In 2012, as many as 19 named storms wreaked havoc along the Atlantic. Most notoriously, "Frankenstorm" Sandy caused major damage to cities as north as New Jersey and Connecticut.

So why are hurricanes growing stronger and more frequent? According to Climate Prediction Center forecaster Gerry Bell, an extremely active season is caused by factors including warmer than average ocean waters that fuel the storms, a lack of El Nino warming at the central south Pacific, an active pattern of storm systems from west Africa, and finally a multiple-decade pattern indicating increased hurricane activity in general.

While the NOAA hurricane forecast may accurately predict the frequency of Atlantic storms, it is far more difficult to guess where the hurricanes may land. According to ABC News, the last time a major hurricane made landfall in the United States was Wilma in 2005.

The hurricane season is expected to begin in the month of June and last as long as November. Stay tuned as we report the latest severe weather events in the months ahead.

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