TIME

NOAA: Hurricane Season To Be Above Normal in Pacific, Average in Atlantic

40% chance of an above-normal hurricane season in the Pacific, predicts the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Central Pacific Ocean will likely experience a normal or busier-than-normal hurricane season this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. The Atlantic Ocean, however, is set for a more subdued season.

In the central Pacific, there’s a 20% chance of a below-normal season, 40% chance of a normal season, and 40% chance of an above-normal season, the NOAA predicted. As for the Atlantic, the outlook is 50% chance of a below-normal season, 40% chance of a normal season, and 10% chance of an ab0ve-normal season.

Both predictions hinge on the behavior of El Niño, a band of warm ocean water that occasionally develops off South America’s west coast. El Niño causes stronger wind shear in the Atlantic, which reduces the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes and other storms. Meanwhile, it will decrease vertical wind shear in the central Pacific, which causes more and stronger tropical cyclones, the NOAA said.

The six-month hurricane season begins June 1.

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