It’s Tuesday, August 14, and this hurricane season is shaping up to be less intense than last year’s.

Grist / NASA

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It’s never a good idea to get complacent during hurricane season — forecasts aren’t always precise. However, it looks like this year won’t be as intense for the Atlantic as 2017’s horrific season. That’s welcome news!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration downgraded its Atlantic hurricane season forecast late last week, due to the likelihood of El Niño developing, cooler ocean surface temperatures, and more stable atmospheric conditions in areas where baby storms like to grow into mega-whoppers. Back in May, NOAA predicted that the likelihood of a below-normal season was only 25 percent. Luckily, the organization just upped that percentage to 60. And the likelihood of an above average season is now just 10 percent.

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NOAA says we’re looking at somewhere between nine and 13 storms this year — about four to seven of those could develop into hurricanes, and only one or two of those could turn into mega-storms. Last year’s hurricane season, by comparison, produced 17 storms total — 10 of ‘em became hurricanes, and six of those were “mega-hurricanes,” like Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

It’s important to note that a hurricane forecast isn’t the same as a landfall forecast. Hurricanes that occur in low-intensity years can cause plenty of damage, especially if they linger over densely populated areas. And climate change is making slow-moving hurricanes more and more likely.

Hurricane season ends November 30. Only three and a half months to go, folks!

Zoya Teirstein

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