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How Bad Will Hurricane Season Be This Year? | Frommer's NASA/NOAA

How Bad Will Hurricane Season Be This Year?

Hurricane season officially starts Friday, June 1, but the first named storm of the year has already arrived. 

Subtropical depression Alberto made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Memorial Day and continues to bring the threat of heavy rains, wind gusts, and flash flooding as it moves through the Southeast. The Weather Channel predicts the storm could last through late Wednesday, as what remains of the system sputters into the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes.

Does this jumpstart on hurricane season portend a repeat of 2017, when devastating storms Harvey, Irma (pictured above), and Maria wreaked havoc on Houston, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean isles (some of which are still recovering)?

Not, thank goodness, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is forecasting a slightly less severe hurricane season compared to last year—the seventh-most active since the NOAA started keeping track in 1851. Altogether, 2017 saw 17 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes, including six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5).

For 2018, the NOAA expects a "near-normal" or "above-normal" season with 10–16 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or more. Of those, five to nine could become hurricanes (with wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or higher), including one to four major hurricanes with winds of at least 110 miles per hour.

(Image: NOAA)

All of the above applies to the Atlantic Ocean. For the Pacific, the NOAA forecasts 14–20 named storms in the eastern part of the ocean, with 7–12 hurricanes, including three to seven major hurricanes; the central Pacific could get three to six tropical cyclones.

Hurricane season lasts through November, hitting its peak in late August.

Travelers can minimize the effects of severe weather on their summer vacations by reading our worldwide guide to hurricane season and by following our advice for what to do when Mother Nature disrupts your trip.