This year's Atlantic hurricane season could be the busiest since 2010, a federal agency said Wednesday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) issued an update to its 2017 outlook, saying there was now a 60 percent chance for above seasonal averages, with 14 - 19 named storms and two-five major hurricanes.
"We're now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form," said Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
"The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season. This is in part because the chance of an El Nino forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May," Bell said.
There were six named storms in the first nine weeks of this season, according to NOAA, which is half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms typically formed by early August.
An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 - Nov. 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
"Today's updated outlook underscores the need for everyone to know their true vulnerabilities to storms and storm surge," said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. "As we enter the height of hurricane season, it's important for everyone to know who issues evacuation orders in their community, heed the warnings, update their insurance and have a preparedness plan."
Hurricanes are among the costliest natural disasters in the U.S. The worst was Hurricane Katrina in 2005, that cost nearly $150 billion and killed more than 1,800.
2010 saw 19 storms and five major hurricanes-the third highest in recorded U.S. history.