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NOAA predicts above-average Atlantic hurricane season

If forecasters are correct and there are warmer-than-average waters in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and weak El Niño conditions this summer, the 2017 hurricane season could be an active one.

"There's a potential for a lot of Atlantic storm activity this year," acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Ben Friedman told The Associated Press Thursday. NOAA's forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms and five to nine hurricanes, with two to four expected to be major; the long-term season averages 12 named storms and six hurricanes, with three major ones. Tropical storms are classified as having sustained winds of at least 39 mph, while hurricanes have sustained winds of at least 74 mph. The Atlantic storm season lasts six months, and will officially start on June 1.

Friedman told AP a new weather satellite that will move into a permanent position over the East Coast later this year will give forecasters a better view of the continental U.S. and tropical waters where hurricanes form. They will be able to watch storms as they develop and "see lightning in the clouds like we've never seen before," Friedman said.