PORTSMOUTH, Va. (CNN/WAVY) — Researchers at Colorado State University are forecasting a slightly below-normal 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.
The university issued its first forecast of the upcoming season on Thursday, calling for five hurricanes — including two that would be “major” storms of a Category 3 or higher. The forecast calls for 13 total named storms.
Researchers say a developing El Nino and cooler waters in the Atlantic Ocean should help inhibit powerful storms in the upcoming season.
Storm activity was 20 percent above-average in 2018, with eight hurricanes. Two of those developed into major storms that struck populated areas.
Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida’s Panhandle with 155 mph winds, while Hurricane Florence flooded much of the Carolinas with more than 30 inches of rain. Each storm caused an estimated $25 billion in damages.
The new forecast does not predict where the storms might form or whether they will make land-fall. Colorado State is scheduled to update the forecast in June, July and August to increase accuracy.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. See the list of names for the 2019 season below.