NOAA predicts near-normal hurricane seasons
May 24, 2012 -- Updated 1719 GMT (0119 HKT)
A satellite picture from August 25, 2011, shows Hurricane Irene over the Caribbean.
- NEW: Early storms this year don't portend a more active season, forecasters say
- Up to 15 named Atlantic storms are expected, including one to three major hurricanes
- A major hurricane packs winds well over 100 miles per hour
- Uncertainty over formation of an El Nino weather pattern affects the prediction
(CNN) -- Despite some early storms this year, forecasters Thursday predicted a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season with nine to 15 named storms, including four to eight hurricanes and one to three major hurricanes.
Gerry Bell, lead hurricane season forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center, told reporters that uncertainty about whether the El Nino weather pattern will form made it difficult to be more precise.
The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
For the Atlantic Ocean, a normal season would produce 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major ones.
A major hurricane, designated as Category 3 or greater, packs winds of well over 100 miles per hour.
Hurricane Bud now a Category 2
In addition, forecasters predicted a near-normal Eastern Pacific hurricane season, with 12 to 18 named storms, including five to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes.
An average season in the Eastern Pacific produces 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
It is extremely rare for an Eastern Pacific hurricane to affect the U.S. mainland, though some do have an influence on Hawaii.
Thursday's announcement came as Hurricane Bud strengthened to a Category 2 storm as it churned toward the southwestern coast of Mexico in the Eastern Pacific.
In addition, Tropical Storm Alberto broke up in the Atlantic this week and another tropical depression was causing heavy rainfall in southern Florida, Bell said.
However, he said the early storms were no harbinger of a more active season than normal.
CNN's Sean Morris contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 5, 2012 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
A mother learns that her newborn is part of a hospital evacuation. Facebook posts from a member of the HMS Bounty turn ominous. A man worries about the wind and rain, but another force of nature hits home.
November 29, 2012 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
Tourists become volunteer rescue workers. The connected provide power outlets and Wi-Fi. Performers lift spirits. Photographers preserve images. Doctors work overtime to keep hospitals running and patients alive.
Get to know the victims of Superstorm Sandy through our interactive feature.
November 30, 2012 -- Updated 1542 GMT (2342 HKT)
It has been in operation only since October 30, but the Facebook page for "Giving back to those affected by Sandy" has a longer timeline than most Facebook members.
November 25, 2012 -- Updated 2007 GMT (0407 HKT)
It's important to remember that even as the effect of Superstorm Sandy recedes from the news, there are still devastated areas that are without electricity, heat or hot water.
November 24, 2012 -- Updated 1646 GMT (0046 HKT)
The rapper 50 Cent brought a little holiday cheer and Thanksgiving food to New Yorkers hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.
November 21, 2012 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
Our AmeriCares "Operation Muck-Out" team immediately got to work, ripping out the interior walls and removing the insulation until only wooden beams were standing.
November 20, 2012 -- Updated 1719 GMT (0119 HKT)
Ashley Murray became the first female president of Liberty Industrial Gases and Welding Supplies Inc. in Brooklyn. But now the family history Murray was charged with preserving is at risk of ending after Superstorm Sandy.
Truckloads of donations from across the country, carrying everything from bottled water to diapers, are arriving at places of worship.
November 20, 2012 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
The adage says "a picture is worth a thousand words," but when Leeann Lewandowski happened upon a photograph of her late mother on Facebook after her home was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, she was speechless.
November 2, 2012 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Roots ripped out of the ground as a large oak tree fell toward Olga Raymond's front door. With it came a power line.
iReporters share their photos, videos and stories of living in the path of the superstorm.