A national agency has announced that two to four major hurricanes are possible during the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.
Major hurricanes are rated category three, four or five, and have winds of at least 111 miles per hour. The hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30.
The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season produced 15 named storms, officials said, including eight hurricanes. Two of the hurricanes were classified as major.
Most notable were hurricanes Michael and Florence that resulted in severe damage in the southeastern part of the United States.
Flooding from Florence caused devastating flooding in the Carolinas. In Horry County, the flooding wreaked havoc on communities like Conway and Socastee.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is predicting a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year.
NOAA forecasts a “likely” range of nine to 15 named storms with winds of at least 39 mph.
Four to eight of those could become hurricanes (meaning the storms would have winds of 74 mph or greater) of which two to four could be major hurricanes.
NOAA provides the ranges with a 70% confidence, according to the agency’s release.
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
“Throughout hurricane season, dedicated NOAA staff will remain on alert for any danger to American lives and communities,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement.
Data from satellites satellites feed hurricane forecast models used by forecasters to help users make decisions days in advance.
NOAA’s National Hurricane Center will also display “excessive” rainfall outlooks on its website, the release said.
Officials stress that hurricane preparedness is crucial as the 2019 hurricane season approaches.
In the release, Dr. Daniel Kaniewski, a deputy administrator for resilience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said, “It only takes one event to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have cash on hand? Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have communication and evacuation plans? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will update the 2019 Atlantic seasonal outlook in August before the historical peak of the season.
Visit hurricanes.gov during the season for information on watches and warnings.
Correction: The headline of a previous version of this story said two to four hurricanes are possible during this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, according to forecasters. Two to four major hurricanes are possible.