The Climate Prediction Center just released their first forecast of the year.

By Marisa Spyker
May 28, 2019
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As the days roll toward the calendar’s halfway point, there’s much to look forward to: warmer days, impending vacays, and plenty of beach time. But on the heels of the unofficial kickoff to everyone’s favorite summer season—Memorial Day weekend—is the official kickoff to a season we’d much rather forget.

On June 1, coastal residents along the Atlantic and Gulf will prepare for yet another hurricane season. And while hindsight might have trained us to brace for the worst, you can be somewhat comforted by the fact that experts think—in comparison to previous years—we probably won’t get it. In their first forecast of the season, the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says we can most likely expect a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season this year, with a likely range of 9 to 15 named storms, including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger).

Related: How To Keep Your Family Safe During a Hurricane:

While that might not seem like particularly good news, it’s a notch better than the above-average forecasts the NOAA dished out in 2017 and 2018. The past two years—which produced behemoths like Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Michael—have proven to be some of the most devastating hurricane seasons in recent history. In 2017 alone, there were 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes.

The town of Mexico Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Michael tore through in 2018.
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In contrast, 2019 could be closer to an average year, which typically churns out 12 named storms and three major hurricanes. According to the NOAA, what could be reducing the hurricane threat is the presence of an ongoing El Nino, or weather patterns that result from warmer-than-average temperatures in the Pacific. Countering that, however, are warmer temps in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean waters, too, which typically fuel the formation of hurricanes. The deciding factor, say experts, could be how long El Nino sticks around. (NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs gives it a 55 to 60 percent chance of continuing through the fall.)

While the NOAA is considered the official word on hurricane forecasting, other experts seem to agree with their analysis. At Colorado State University, which issues one of the most well respected forecasts outside of the NOAA, researchers predict a slightly below average season, with just two major hurricanes.

But, of course, while two is better than three and three better than four, the best rule of thumb is to make sure you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature ultimately decides. “It only takes one event to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare,” says Daniel Kaniewski, FEMA’s deputy administrator for resilience. “Do you have cash on hand? Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have communication and evacuation plans? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”