SUITLAND, Md. — The federal government predicts a near-normal 2016 hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin, with four to eight hurricanes expected to form.
Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts 10 to 16 named tropical storms will develop in the region, which includes the Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, the agency announced Friday. The season officially begins Wednesday and runs through Nov. 30.
Of the hurricanes, one to four could be major, with wind speeds of 111 mph or higher and rated as Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale of Hurricane Intensity. An average season typically spawns six hurricanes and peaks in August and September. A tropical storm contains wind speeds of 39 mph or higher and becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph.
Tropical Storm Bonnie is likely to form off the Southeast coast Friday or Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said. Alex, an unusual January hurricane that spun out at sea, was the first storm of 2016.
AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, two of the largest private weather forecasting companies, both predicted 14 named tropical storms will form, with eight becoming hurricanes. Colorado State University meteorologists last month predicted 12 tropical storms, five of them hurricanes.
Colorado State University meteorologist William Gray, who recently passed away, was the first scientist to make seasonal hurricane forecasts in the 1980s.
As it does every year, NOAA called for preparedness, noting it only takes one storm for a bad season. After Bonnie, the next few named storms of the Atlantic hurricane season will be Colin, Danielle, Earl and Fiona.