Forecast predicts busy Atlantic hurricane season

This satellite image taken Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 at 12:45 p.m. EDT, and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Joaquin, bottom center, pounding the Bahamas and a deepening low pressure system on the U.S. east coast. Millions along the east coast breathed a little easier Friday after forecasters said Hurricane Joaquin would probably veer out to sea instead of joining up with a drenching rainstorm that is bringing severe flooding to parts of the Atlantic Seaboard. (NOAA via AP)

MIAMI (AP) – U.S. forecasters say an Atlantic hurricane season that started off strong shows no signs of slowing down.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s updated hurricane season forecast predicts 14 to 19 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. Two to five hurricanes are expected to be “major” with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph).

Gerry Bell of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said wind patterns and warmer than average water temperatures that can fuel storm development are expected to persist throughout the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Six tropical storms have formed so far this year, including two that hit the U.S. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Franklin was nearing hurricane strength Wednesday as it approached Mexico’s central Gulf coast.

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