Here's what researchers are tentatively anticipating this year.

By Marisa Spyker
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There’s no doubt about it: The past three years have been rough on hurricane-prone regions. From Hurricane Matthew rocking the Carolinas in 2016 to Irma’s devastation in 2017 and Michael’s crushing of the Florida panhandle in 2018, it might seem like the pattern of Mother Nature’s destruction is never-ending.

But, according to an early report out of Colorado State University, 2019 just might bring us the much-needed break we desperately need. The university’s Department of Atmospheric Science recently analyzed projected weather patterns that could contribute to the activity within a hurricane season. Based on their data, researchers are tentatively anticipating lower chances of destructive storms this year.

Related: The 10 Most Disastrous Hurricanes in U.S. History: 

CSU’s early predictions suggest five separate scenarios that could develop, based on climate factors such as sea surface temperatures and the likelihood of an El Niño developing (which it just has, according to the NOAA) and persisting through summer.

Three of the five scenarios suggest an average or below-average hurricane season with anywhere from 5 to 11 named storms. (An average season, by comparison, brings 12 named storms; in 2017—a record-breaking year—we had 18 named storms, four of which were major hurricanes.)

Related: These Will Be the 2019 Hurricane Names, From Andrea to Wendy

While the early outlooks have held true in the past (last year, CSU predicted a more-active-than-average 2018 hurricane season), researchers stress that it’s much too early to say with certainty what the weather will do come fall.

Spring predictions, however, could be more enlightening, once storm experts are able to determine the strength and duration of El Niño and other more concrete climate patterns. CSU plans to release an updated spring forecast April 4, which is typically followed by an NOAA forecast in May. Hurricane season begins June 1.

Until then, we’re gladly taking this sliver of hope and holding on tight.

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