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Experts predict nine named storms, three hurricanes, one major hurricane

Atlantic average is 12 named storms, six hurricanes, three major hurricanes

Moderate El Nino, cooler Atlantic waters cited in forecast

CNN  — 

The U.S. could be in for another quiet hurricane season, according to Phillip Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University.

Their annual preseason forecast, released Thursday, predicted nine named storms and three hurricanes, one of them major (category 3 or higher). That’s well below the Atlantic basin average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

They attribute the below-normal prediction to cooler than average water in the Atlantic Ocean and a likelihood of a moderate El Nino developing in late summer or fall.

“The tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past several months, and the chances of a moderate to strong El Nino event this summer and fall appear to be quite high,” Klotzbach said. “Historical data indicate fewer storms form in these conditions.”

Last year’s forecast was for 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes. However, there were only 14 named storms and two hurricanes, neither of them major.

2012 and 2014 were the only two years in the past decade in which Gray has gone with a below-normal season in his preseason report. He forecast 10 named storms in 2012. That year ended up being tied for the third most named storms on record, with 19.

This year’s report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall on U.S. soil:

• 35% for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the past century is 52%)

• 20% for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (average for the past century is 31%)

• 19% for the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle west to Brownsville, Texas (average for the past century is 30%)

• 28% for the Caribbean (average for the past century is 42%)