| TAMPA, Fla.
TAMPA, Fla. Aug 7 Federal forecasters on
Thursday downgraded their outlook for the 2014 Atlantic
hurricane season, predicting "below normal" activity with seven
to 12 named storms, no more than two of which are expected to
reach major hurricane status.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) said it was more confident of a below-normal season than
when it issued its initial advisory in May, when a "near or
below normal" season was predicted.
The revised forecast predicts 70 percent chances of a
below-normal season, compared to the 50 percent odds issued by
NOAA' forecasters in May.
A typical season has 12 named storms, with six hurricanes
and three hurricanes reaching major Category 3 status. The six
month-long hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
In its new outlook, the agency cited the strengthening of
climate conditions that are not favorable to hurricane
development, including cooler than average temperatures in the
tropical Atlantic Ocean.
Conditions are still favorable for the formation this year
of El Niño, a climate pattern that creates strong wind shear,
making it harder for storms to develop into hurricanes.
"Nonetheless, tropical storms and hurricanes can strike the
U.S. during below-normal seasons, as we have already seen this
year when Arthur made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2
hurricane," said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane
forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
Hurricane Arthur struck the North Carolina coast in July
with little serious damage.
Bertha, the second hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic season,
has dissipated in the ocean after weakening earlier this week to
a tropical storm while it skirted the U.S. East Coast.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and