World June 2, 2016 | 11:52 am

Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1: La Niña may fuel most active season in 3 years

AcuWeather Global Weather Center.- AccuWeather reports experts are calling for an above-normalhurricane season this year with 14 named storms forecast for the Atlanticbasin.

Of those, eight are predicted to become hurricanes and fourare predicted to become major hurricanes.

Due to a combination of factors, this season is expected tobe more active than any season in the past three years. Experts warn that thoseliving along the Atlantic coast should be on alert.

"During the early part of the season, of course, welook off the Southeast coast of the United States, where we’ve already had onewith Bonnie, but we also look in the Gulf of Mexico especially the northwesternportion of the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico," AccuWeather AtlanticHurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

"Those are two areas that we’re watching very closelyand those are the prime areas," Kottlowski said.

For months, meteorologists have been monitoring thepossibility for the El Niño weather pattern to transition to a La Niña – achange that would have a significant impact on how active the season becomes.

Earlier this spring, it was unclear whether or not thistransition would occur, but experts say it’s now looking more likely.

La Niña is characterized by below-normal water temperaturesin the Pacific Ocean near the equator.

When this occurs, less wind shear is found in thedevelopmental regions of the Atlantic, increasing the potential for ahigher-than-normal amount of tropical systems.

"There’s even more information now strongly suggestingthat there’s at least a 75 to 80 percent chance that we will go into a La Niñapattern," Kottlowski said.

"Historically, some hurricane seasons that havefollowed a transition from El Niño to La Niña have been very active. It’spossible we could flip from one extreme to the other, from below-normal seasonsthe past three years to an above-normal year in 2016," he said.

The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season yielded 11 named stormsin total, of which four became hurricanes and two became major hurricanes.

Historical data also indicates that seasons which areactive during the months of May, June and July have a higher likelihood ofbecoming a normal or above-normal season.

Meteorologists are monitoring the northwestern Caribbeanand eastern Gulf of Mexico for potential development next week. Should a stormdevelop, it will take the name Colin.

Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

For more information, contact:Justin Roberti / 814.235.8756/ roberti@accuweather.com

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