Despite a calm start to the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, with just three named storms so far that did not reach hurricane strength, forecasters are urging those in coastal areas not to let their guard down heading into the peak storm months.

“Communities and families should prepare now for the remainder of what is still expected to be an active hurricane season,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service, at an Aug. 4 briefing.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center places the likelihood of above-normal storm activity in the Atlantic basin at 60%, down slightly from 65% in its May forecast.

“We’re just getting into the peak months of August through October for hurricane development, and we anticipate that more storms are on the way,” said NOAA Administrator Rich Spinrad.

NOAA’s latest outlook predicts 14 to 20 named storms, with six to 10 reaching hurricane strength and three to five of those becoming major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. An average season produces 14 named storms, seven of which reach hurricane strength, including three major hurricanes.

Forecasters cite continuing La Niña atmospheric conditions, an active west African monsoon and warm surface temperatures in the central Atlantic as factors favorable to above-normal storm formation.

A separate forecast from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project predicts 18 named storms for the year, with eight reaching hurricane strength and four becoming major hurricanes.

The six-month Atlantic hurricane season began April 1 and continues through Nov. 30. The storms are a seasonal concern for co-ops serving members in coastal communities from Maine to Texas, but remnants can spawn severe storms, tornadoes and flooding hundreds of miles inland.

“Although it has been a relatively slow start to hurricane season, with no major storms developing in the Atlantic, this is not unusual and we therefore cannot afford to let our guard down,” said Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “This is especially important as we enter peak hurricane season—the next Ida or Sandy could still be lying in wait.”