The Atlantic hurricane season is now upon us, running from June 1 through Nov. 30. Projections for the 2017 season indicate the North Carolina coast should brace for average to above-average storm activity.
Federal forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms topping sustained winds of 39 mph, five to nine of which will reach hurricane strength of at least 74 mph. Researchers at North Carolina State University are anticipating 11 to 15 tropical storms forming in the Atlantic basin.
“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The 1950 to 2014 average for named storms is 11. Since 1851, North Carolina has experienced 83 direct hits by storms, with the most storm activity occurring in September and August, according to the State Climate Office.
Visit the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives’ Storm Center for more information, including hurricane preparation and safety tips.