In May, NOAA predicted this hurricane season would produce 13-16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become major hurricanes with winds of 179km per hour or higher.
Now the agency is saying the 2006 season could produce between 12 and 15 named storms, of which seven to nine could become hurricanes and three or four of these being classified as “major” hurricanes. Two or three of these major hurricanes could be expected to cross the US Atlantic or Gulf coastlines.
So far this season there have only been three named storms, but the season peaks between August and late October, according to NOAA administrator Conrad Lautenbacher.
“Conditions will be favourable for above-normal activity for the rest of this season – so we are not off the hook by any means,” he said.
In the last week, US weather forecasters have cut their outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season due partly to cooler-than-expected ocean surface temperatures.
But water temperatures remain above normal and are expected to combine with favourable wind patterns to produce an above-average hurricane season.
The average Atlantic hurricane season generates 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major storms.
Last year, saw 28 tropical storms in US waters, of which 15 became hurricanes, and a record four major hurricanes mader landfall in the US, including the devastating pair of Rita and Katrina.