Record high ocean temperatures and the development of a climate phenomenon known as La Nina will keep the Atlantic hurricane season on track to be the busiest since 2005, government forecasters said Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration slightly lowered the outlook it released in May, but an above-normal season was still expected, said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in Washington.
The updated forecast calls for 14 to 20 named tropical storms, down from a range of 14 to 23. The hurricane season started June 1 and ends Nov. 30, but the peak period for hurricanes runs from August through October.
Eight to 12 storms could become hurricanes, and four to six of those hurricanes could become major storms, blowing winds of 111 mph or more, forecasters said.
"August heralds the start of the most active phase of the Atlantic hurricane season and with the meteorological factors in place, now is the time for everyone living in hurricane prone areas to be prepared," NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a statement.