Wind, rain and heavy surf hit Atlantic Beach, Fla., as Tropical Storm Andrea moved into Florida in June 2013. Andrea was one of the few tropical storms to impact the USA last year. / Bob Mack, AP
Private weather firm AccuWeather has joined the list of forecasting teams predicting a quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic. In a forecast released Wednesday, AccuWeather expects that 10 named tropical storms will form, of which five will be hurricanes.
"If we have a robust El Niño develop, then the numbers will be much lower and this could be one of the least active years in memory," AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.
El Niño, a periodic warming of tropical Pacific Ocean waters, is predicted to occur later this year. The pattern produces strong wind shear that can tear developing Atlantic hurricanes apart.
A typical year, based on records dating to 1950, has 12 tropical storms, of which six are hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last year, though 14 named tropical storms developed, only two became hurricanes. That was the quietest year for hurricanes since 1982.
A tropical storm has sustained winds of 39 mph; it becomes a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and includes all tropical systems that form in the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.
AccuWeather says two of the storms are predicted to make landfall in the USA.
The areas to watch closely for potential impact will be from eastern Louisiana east through Florida and north through the Carolina and Virginia coasts, including the cities of New Orleans, Tampa, Miami, Key West, Charleston and Norfolk.
Last month, forecasters from Colorado State University predicted a below-average 2014 hurricane season, with nine tropical storms expected and three hurricanes. The Weather Channel's forecast, also released in April, calls for 11 named storms, of which five are expected to become hurricanes.
The federal government will issue its hurricane forecast May 22.
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