The latest prediction from federal forecasters calls for a normal or near-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year.

Lead Hurricane Forecaster Gerry Bell with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the outlook reflects competing climate factors, an El Nino in in the Pacific that suppresses hurricanes, and West African monsoons that favor more storms.

"We are predicting nine to 15 named storms of which we expect four to eight of those to become hurricanes and two to four of those to become major hurricanes," Bell said.

They are forecasting a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season.

"So you've got these competing factors. At this time it looks like we're going to wind up with a near normal season," Bell said Thursday.

Bell says regardless of the number or severity of these seasonal storms, "in both the Atlantic and Gulf Coast of the United States, residents need to prepare every single hurricane season regardless of the outlook because we all know it only takes one storm to really decimate a given area."

"We saw last year these hurricanes affect people in different ways. It could be severe inland flooding or major wind damage," Bell said.

The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

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