St. Kitts and Nevis residents should prepare for from one to four major Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes, during the June 1 to November 30 hurricane season, according to Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre.

“The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season will most likely be near-normal, but forecast uncertainty in the climate signals that influence the formation of Atlantic storms make predicting this season particularly difficult,” Bell said.

NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including one to four major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a near-normal season is most likely with a 45 percent chance, there is also a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season. Included in today’s outlook is Hurricane Alex, a pre-season storm that formed over the far eastern Atlantic in January.

“This is a more challenging hurricane season outlook than most because it’s difficult to determine whether there will be reinforcing or competing climate influences on tropical storm development,” Bell explained. “However, a near-normal prediction for this season suggests we could see more hurricane activity than we’ve seen in the last three years, which were below normal.”