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Hurricane season will be ‘normal,’ NC State professor predicts, but 2 or 3 could be major

Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station

Cameras outside the International Space Station capture views of Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic as the station passes over the storm at 8:10 a.m. EDT Sept. 10. (No Audio)
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Cameras outside the International Space Station capture views of Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic as the station passes over the storm at 8:10 a.m. EDT Sept. 10. (No Audio)

When the 2019 hurricane season starts, it is going to be a “normal” one, according to a North Carolina State University professor’s prediction.

The forecast that Lian Xie anticipates calls for “13 to 16 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin,” according to a story posted on N.C. State’s website.

This season will be normal because the average number of storms formed between 1995 and 2018 has been 14, according to N.C. State.

If Xie’s prediction is accurate, that will mean a decline in storms from the past two years, which were both above average.

In 2017, there were 17 named storms that formed in the area that includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

There were 15 named storms last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

Cameras outside the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Michael.

In the past two hurricane seasons, storms such as Harvey, Irma, Florence and Michael were among the most powerful to make landfall in the Southeast, leading to fatalities and destruction through both Carolinas.

Xie forecast five to seven storms could become hurricanes this year, “with the possibility of two to three storms becoming major hurricanes,” N.C. State reported.

The N.C. State prediction, which the school reported is based off “100 years of historical data ... weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures” among other variables, is similar to the storms forecast in 2019 by AccuWeather.

AccuWeather predicts this season will have five to seven hurricanes, with as many as 14 tropical storms forming in the Atlantic, according to the Caller Times.

While there might be fewer chances for storms to inflict the devastation that Florence or Michael caused in 2018, the hurricanes that are formed could be just as dangerous.

“This year, we think that there will be a few less tropical storms and lower numbers in hurricanes, but again, the old saying is ‘it only takes one’,” AccuWeather forecaster Dan Kottlowski said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

At least 50 people died as a result of Hurricane Florence, according to the News & Observer, while the death toll from Hurricane Michael was at least 45, WSFA reported.

The 2019 hurricane season will begin on June 1 and run through Nov. 30.

Robert Simmons Jr. escapes Hurricane Florence floodwaters with his kitten 'Survivor' in New Bern, NC.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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