The Atlantic will have an average hurricane season this year, with 12 named storms, according to AccuWeather Inc.
AccuWeather’s outlook is more robust than those of several other forecasters, including Colorado State University researchers, who have called for a below-average year with 10 to 11 storms. The typical June 1 to Nov. 30 season produces 12 systems with winds of at least 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Atlantic weather is closely watched because the storms are a threat to oil and natural gas interests in the Gulf of Mexico and agriculture in the South. The Gulf accounts for 29 percent of U.S. oil output and 40 percent of refining capacity, while Florida is the second-largest citrus producer behind Brazil.
State College, Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather predicts five storms will become hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph and two will grow into major systems with winds of 111 mph or more.
“Another big storm is possible for the East Coast with heavy, flooding rain,” Paul Pastelok, lead long-range forecaster for the company, said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Colorado State predicted 10 named storms would form in 2012. Weather Service International yesterday joined MDA EarthSat Weather and Commodity Weather Group LLC in forecasting 11 storms.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release its seasonal forecast next month.