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Colorado State University hurricane researchers have predicted a slightly below-average Atlantic hurricane season for 2017.
According to the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project report, a weak La Niña this past winter has dissipated, and there is the potential that a weak-to-moderate El Niño could develop by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.
In addition, the tropical Atlantic is now slightly cooler than normal. Cooler tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are associated with a more stable atmosphere as well as drier air, both of which suppress organized thunderstorm activity necessary for hurricane development.
The CSU team is predicting 11 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those, researchers expect four to become hurricanes and two to reach major hurricane strength with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
The CSU team will issue forecast updates on June 1, July 3 and Aug. 2.