The 2018 hurricane season could be more active than normal on both the Atlantic and Pacific basins, according to government meteorologists.
Recalling the devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, officials urged preparation and reminded Americans that any storm has the potential of causing major damage.
"The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during a May 24 briefing on the 2018 hurricane season.
Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict a 35 percent chance of above-normal storm activity in the Atlantic and an 80 percent chance of normal to above-normal activity in the eastern and central Pacific regions.
"With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm's way is unprecedented," said Ross.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. Atmospheric conditions, including near-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea, have been conducive to development of stronger hurricane seasons in the Atlantic basin since 1995.
There is a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms with winds exceeding 39 mph over Atlantic waters in 2018, NOAA said. Of that number, five to nine could become hurricanes, with winds in excess of 74 mph, and up to four could have sustained winds of 111 mph or more.
Forecasters predict 14 to 20 named storms for the eastern Pacific, with up to 12 reaching hurricane strength, and as many as seven reaching major hurricane status.
Electric cooperatives in Gulf Coast states and in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions were busy repairing lines and rebuilding systems for weeks following major storms in 2017.
"It only takes one storm to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare," said Daniel Kaniewski, acting deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.