'Near normal' Atlantic hurricane season predicted

The Atlantic is in for a "near-normal" season of six to eight hurricanes this year, researchers at N.C. State University predict.

The chance that one of the hurricanes will make landfall along the Southeastern U.S. coast is 45 percent, according to the researchers, led by Lian Xie, a professor of marine, Earth and atmospheric sciences.

The researchers say that 11 to 14 named storms are likely in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Of those, six to eight may become hurricanes, the researchers said.

In the gulf, the researchers say, three to five named storms may form, with one to three becoming hurricanes. They expect two to four named storms to make landfall along the gulf, with a 70 percent chance that at least one will be a hurricane.

The predictions are in line with numbers from the past 20 years, though slightly above the average of the past 50 years.

Xie and collaborators - Montserrat Fuentes, a professor of statistics, and graduate student Danny Modlin - evaluated data from the past 100 years and other variables, including weather patterns and sea surface temperatures.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.