What to expect in this year’s hurricane season

June through November

Three major hurricanes struck US soil in 2017: Harvey, Irma and Maria. What will 2018 bring?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Forecasters expect an above-average season with 14 named storms. Seven of those are expected to become hurricanes and three are expected to be major hurricanes.


These are the names of tropical storms or hurricanes that may form in the Atlantic Ocean. Needing the entire list in a season is rare.

National Hurricane Center / World Meteorological Organization

The 2018 forecast is quieter than 2017. Colorado State University predicts a 63% probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the US. Average probability is 52%.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Critical Factors

Last season had near-record warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic. In terms of major hurricanes, this near-record warmth contributed to the surge in activity. As of now sea surface temperatures are not dramatically warm but there’s still time for this to occur if it will at all.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

What about El Niño/La Niña?

El Niño:

A naturally occurring phenomenon characterized by warmer than normal water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region

Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

One of the elements of El Niño is increased wind shear across the tropical Atlantic, which creates hostile conditions for hurricane development.

Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images

La Niña:

The opposite of El Niño, characterized by cooler water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region

NASA/NOAA/GOES Project/Getty Images

When La Niña is present, conditions tend to be more favorable for hurricane development in the Atlantic.


Currently, we are in a weak La Niña, but it is believed we will transition to a neutral phase of El Niño-Southern Oscillation over the next several months (no El Niño or La Niña).