Government forecasters released their projections Friday for the 2016 hurricane season: 10 to 16 named storms, with 4 to 8 hurricanes and 1 to 4 of those reaching “major” storm status.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials called the forecast “near-normal,” but the outlook could mean the busiest Atlantic tropical storm season since 2012, when Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the northeastern United States.
“We could be in for more activity than we’ve seen in recent years,” said Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA’s administrator. “This is a forecast about the number of systems — storms and hurricanes likely to form — it makes no prediction with respect to landfalls or tracks at this point.”
The official U.S. hurricane season, when more than 97 percent of tropical activity occurs, begins Wednesday and ends Nov. 30.
Officials encourage anyone living in an area prone to tropical cyclones to prepare early. The National Weather Service offers a hurricane preparedness checklist, with tips on determining risks, evacuation plans, insurance, disaster supplies, strengthening homes and staying informed of storms.
Category 1: Winds of 74-95 mph capable of damaging roofs, vinyl siding and power lines, and snapping large tree branches.
Category 2: Winds of 96-110 mph capable of causing major roof and siding damage, toppling shallowly rooted trees, with power outages lasting several days to weeks.
Category 3 (major): Winds of 111-129 mph creating devastating damage to homes, downing trees and disrupting electricity and water service for several days to weeks.
Category 4 (major): Winds of 130-156 mph that will cause catastrophic damage. Well-built homes can sustain severe damage, and toppled power poles and trees will make most of the area uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category 5 (major): Winds of 157 mph or higher will create catastrophic losses, destroying most framed homes, isolating residential areas with downed trees and power poles, and causing prolonged power outages.