Here’s what to expect from hurricane season

New Orleans after Katrina
A woman jogs along a levee along the Mississippi River with the city skyline in the distance on May 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mario Tama

The US may be in for a slightly weaker hurricane season this summer, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare.

On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the Atlantic Ocean will see a below-average number of hurricanes this season due to cooler seas and a strong El Niño effect, which makes it harder for hurricanes to form in the Atlantic-Caribbean basin.

The NOAA’s forecast calls for six to 11 tropical storms this year, with three to six reaching hurricane status, including possibly two major hurricanes with winds reaching at least 111 miles-per-hour (178 kph).

Officials say that people shouldn’t take the news as an excuse not to prepare, though.

“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook,” NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said in a press release. “As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities.”

Some years that have been advertised as low years, for example, have seen hurricanes. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew did billions of dollars in damage to an unprepared south Florida during what was supposed to be a low hurricane year.

A report in April by researchers at Colorado State University predicted that the odds of a hurricane making landfall along the entire Atlantic coast is down significantly from the historical average.

(Reporting by David Adams; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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