NOAA says hurricane season will be worse than first predicted

By: Weather.com Meteorologists

NOAA has raised the number of named storms it expects to develop in their latest 2017 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, warning that "the season has the potential to be extremely active."

In their August outlook update released Wednesday, NOAA forecasters said there is a high chance – 60 percent – of an above-average hurricane season, with 14 to 19 named storms expected throughout the season.

The NOAA team expects near to slightly above average hurricane activity through November following just one hurricane so far. NOAA also increased their forecast for major hurricanes from their May outlook, expecting 2 to 5 Category 3 or stronger hurricanes.

RELATED: Hurricane Franklin

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Hurricane Franklin
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A family react to waves breaking over the sea wall ahead of Hurricane Franklin in Veracruz, Mexico, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Victor Yanez
A man shelters under an umbrella as he walks at a pier ahead of Hurricane Franklin in Veracruz, Mexico, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Victor Yanez
A man carries an umbrella while dismantling his beach business in anticipation of the arrival of Tropical Storm Franklin in the port city of Veracruz in Veracruz state, Mexico on August 9, 2017. Tropical Storm Franklin will likely strengthen into a hurricane when it makes landfall again on Mexico's eastern coastline, storm forecasters said Wednesday. / AFP PHOTO / VICTORIA RAZO (Photo credit should read VICTORIA RAZO/AFP/Getty Images)
A man carries chairs while dismantling his beach business in anticipation of the arrival of Tropical Storm Franklin in the port city of Veracruz in Veracruz state, Mexico on August 9, 2017. Tropical Storm Franklin will likely strengthen into a hurricane when it makes landfall again on Mexico's eastern coastline, storm forecasters said Wednesday. / AFP PHOTO / VICTORIA RAZO (Photo credit should read VICTORIA RAZO/AFP/Getty Images)
Fishermen push a boat out of the sea in anticipation of the arrival of Tropical Storm Franklin in the port city of Veracruz in Veracruz state, Mexico on August 9, 2017. Tropical Storm Franklin will likely strengthen into a hurricane when it makes landfall again on Mexico's eastern coastline, storm forecasters said Wednesday. / AFP PHOTO / VICTORIA RAZO (Photo credit should read VICTORIA RAZO/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists walk along the beach in Mahahual, Quintana Roo State, on August 8, 2017 after tropical storm Franklin made landfall on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Tropical Storm Franklin made landfall in Mexico late Monday, dumping heavy rain on some of the country's premier tourist beaches. Franklin arrived around 0345 GMT Tuesday some 350 Km south of the beach resort of Cancun, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre reported. / AFP PHOTO / ELIZABETH RUIZ (Photo credit should read ELIZABETH RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
TULUM, MEXICO -AUGUST 08: A security guard from one of the local hotels is seen during the rain caused by tropical storm Franklin in Tulum, Mexico on August 08, 2017. Franklin is heading for the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to hit Veracruz after become a hurricane. (Photo by Isabel Mateos/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man drives a horse drawn carriage under the rain caused by the passage of tropical storm Franklin in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico on August 8, 2017. Tropical Storm Franklin swept Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday, dumping heavy rain on its pristine beaches but doing relatively little damage -- though the country was braced for a second round. Franklin made landfall early Tuesday some 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of the beach resort of Cancun, and was advancing to the northwest at 20 kilometers per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). / AFP PHOTO / HUGO BORGES (Photo credit should read HUGO BORGES/AFP/Getty Images)
TULUM, MEXICO -AUGUST 08: People are seen near a knocked down booth after tropical storm Franklin hit Tulum, Mexico on August 08, 2017. Franklin is heading for the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to hit Veracruz after become a hurricane. (Photo by Isabel Mateos/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Tropical storms Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don and Emily, and Hurricane Franklin – all of which have already occurred – are included in the seasonal forecast numbers in the outlook.

The updated forecast is above the Atlantic Basin's 30-year historical average (1981-2010) of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Numbers increased slightly in Colorado State University's final forecast issued late last week, too.

A total of 16 named storms and eight hurricanes are expected in the Atlantic Basin, according to the CSU forecast, led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach. Three of the eight hurricanes are forecast to be Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

(MORE: Most Notorious Part of Hurricane Season)

Warm water temperatures in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean along with the dwindling chance of El Niño's development later this summer are reasons why the forecast has steadily nudged upward.

RELATED: Top 5 cities vulnerable to hurricanes

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Top 5 cities vulnerable to hurricanes
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Top 5 cities vulnerable to hurricanes

Miami, Florida

Miami takes the number one spot on this list with a 16 percent chance of experiencing the impacts of a hurricane in any given year. Based on historical data, on average a hurricane will pass within 50 miles of the Miami metropolitan area every six to eight years. With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and a maximum elevation of 42 feet above sea level Miami's geography makes it highly vulnerable to hurricanes.

In addition to this, a majority of the population resides within 20 miles of the coastline increasing the risk of high property damage.

"Miami has a large population density, and as a result, the effects of a major hurricane would be catastrophic to the city," AccuWeather Meteorologist David Samuhel said. "Also, because of its southern location, Miami is probably the largest city on this list to see a Category 4 or 5 hurricane in the future."

Although a major hurricane is long overdue in Miami, the city has dealt with its share of intense hurricanes in the past. The last major hurricane to affect the city was Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which packed winds of 165 mph and currently holds the record as the third strongest U.S. landfalling hurricane. Andrew's total damage cost was $26.5 billion as communities in the surrounding areas were severely affected due to its intense winds and high storm surge.

Key West, Florida

Key West, like Miami, has a 16 percent chance of being impacted by a hurricane during any Atlantic hurricane season. Known as the Southernmost City in the Continental United States, Key West is directly impacted by a hurricane every 5.96 years, according to Hurricane City.

The Florida Keys are an archipelago of about 1,700 islands spanning 113 miles with Key West located at the southern tip. With the Atlantic Ocean to the south and east and the Gulf of Mexico to the north and west, the coastal town is exposed to all sides to passing hurricanes.

Key West with maximum elevation of 18 feet above sea level makes it susceptible to heavy flooding and storm surge during a hurricane event. Hurricane Wilma in 2004, regarded as the worst storm to hit the area, passed just west of Key West and produced a storm surge of 8 feet leaving 60-70 percent of the island under water.

"Key West has faced several situations in the past where it has been brushed or directly affected by some of the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States. This includes the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane which was remembered as one of the most intense U.S. hurricanes based on pressure and maximum wind speeds," Samuhel said. "Because Key West is so far from the mainland, evacuating people can be a difficult challenge during a hurricane event."

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

Located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Cape Hatteras has a 15 percent chance of feeling the impacts of a hurricane in any given year. Cape Hatteras is positioned 280 miles farther east than Palm Beach, Florida, (easternmost location of the Florida coast). As a result, Cape Hatteras has been exposed in the past to hurricanes that move up the Eastern Seaboard.

"Cape Hatteras is very close to the Gulf Stream, which enables hurricanes to strengthen due to warmer ocean temperatures during the summer," Samuhel explained. "Typically, when tropical systems get caught in the jet stream off the East Coast of the U.S., they tend to curve out to sea, but because of the location of Hatteras, hurricanes tend to clip that region before affecting anywhere else on the East Coast."

When Hurricane Isabel struck the region in 2003, the Army Corp of Engineers was forced to fill up an inlet that was created when the storm split Hatteras Island between Frisco and Hatteras, North Carolina.

Tampa, Florida

The western coast of Florida has endured its share of hurricanes, and the city of Tampa is no exception. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area has an 11 percent chance of feeling the impacts of a hurricane in any given year. Tampa, situated on a peninsula lying along Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, is exposed to hurricanes entering the Gulf and systems forming in the Atlantic. Many of the 347,645 people living in the area have homes along the coast, making residents susceptible to storm surge.

"Like Miami, Tampa is a large metropolitan area and the effects of a hurricane would be widespread throughout the city," Samuhel explained. "Because it is located by the shallow Tampa Bay, water piles up into the city, causing very significant storm surge along the coastline."

The city hasn't suffered a direct hit by a strong hurricane since the 1921 Tampa Bay Hurricane, the first major hurricane to hit the city, but 68 tropical storms and hurricanes have passed within 60 miles of the city according to Hurricane City. Most recently in 2004, Hurricane Charley caused $16 billion in damages when the Category 4 storm made landfall just south of Tampa.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 shined the light on how devastating a tropical system can be for the city of New Orleans. Like Tampa, The Big Easy has an 11 percent chance of experiencing the impact of a hurricane in an average year. According to NOAA, a hurricane makes landfall within 50 miles of New Orleans about once every seven to 11 years.

The city has since made drastic improvements to its levee system since Katrina left most of the city under several feet of water. Nevertheless, with more than 50 percent of the city living below sea level and the rapid sinking of marshy coastal land in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans still remains highly vulnerable to storm surge during a major hurricane.

"The Mississippi River is almost 30 feet above the city level just to put in perspective of how low New Orleans is in terms of elevation," Samuhel said. "The land around New Orleans is sinking, which puts the city in more danger if another major hurricane strike."

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"A warmer-than-normal tropical Atlantic is generally associated with lower surface pressures, increased mid-level moisture and weaker trade winds, creating a more conducive dynamic and thermodynamic environment for hurricane formation and intensification," said the CSU team.

Widespread and hostile upper-level winds typically associated with El Niño will also be a no-show during the heart of the hurricane season ahead, but unfavorable winds aloft still occur at times each season in the Atlantic Basin whether El Niño is present or not.

"The chance of an El Niño forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May," according to Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

CSU found five years since 1950 that most closely resemble what's expected in the atmosphere above and waters of the Atlantic Basin from August through October. Those years included 1953, 1969, 1979, 2001 and 2004. The average of those six seasons is slightly lower than the CSU forecast for 2017.

RELATED: 15 of the deadliest American hurricanes ever

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Hurricane Hugo, 1989: 21 deaths

Hurricane Hugo made landfall as a Category 4 storm in South Carolina. It caused 21 deaths in the US and resulted in $7.1 billion of damage. At the time, it was the costliest storm in US history.

Photo courtesy: Getty

Tropical Storm Allison, 2001: 41 deaths

While not an official hurricane, Allison clocks in as the costliest and deadliest tropical storm in US history, causing 41 deaths and costing more than $5 billion in damage. The storm started over the Gulf of Mexico near Texas, then traveled east, causing floods like the one pictured here in Houston, Texas.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Irene, 2011: 56 deaths

Hurricane Irene, the first storm to hit the US since Ike three years earlier, made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. The storm eventually made its way up to New York City, bringing flooding -- like the kind pictured here in Puerto Rico -- and causing $7.3 billion in damage overall.

Photo courtesy: AP

Hurricane Floyd, 1999: 57 deaths

Hurricane Floyd was a catastrophic storm because of the rain it brought along. The rain caused extreme flooding from North Carolina on up as the Category 2 storm traveled up the East Coast.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Great Atlantic Hurricane, 1944: 64 deaths

The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 was also devastating to New England, with 64 deaths and more than $100 million in damage. The storm was a Category 3 as it sped up the coast, hitting the Carolinas, Rhode Island, and Long Island before downgrading to a Category 2 in Maine.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Agnes, 1972: 122 deaths

Hurricane Agnes, as seen in this image made it all the way inland to Pennsylvania. Although it was only a Category 1 storm (with winds from 74-95 mph), it still caused 122 deaths and caused $2.1 billion in damage.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Ike, 2008: 195 deaths

The third costliest storm in US history, with $29.5 billion in damage, occurred in September 2008. Starting off the west coast of Africa, Hurricane Ike made its way over the Caribbean and into the Gulf, making US landfall in Texas as a Category 2 storm

Photo courtesy: Reuters

Hurricane Camille, 1969: 256 deaths

Hurricane Camille formed in the Gulf of Mexico and hit Mississippi as a Category 5 storm. Camille caused more than 256 deaths and clocks in as the second most intense hurricane to hit the US.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

New England, 1938: 256 deaths

Nicknamed "Long Island Express," the storm hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm before charging north and hitting Long Island, New York and Connecticut as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm was responsible for more than 256 deaths.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Hurricane Sandy, 2012: 285 deaths

With $71.4 billion in damage, Hurricane Sandy was the second costliest hurricane in US history. The Category 1 storm pummeled New York City, flooding the city's transportation systems and leaving thousands of homes destroyed.

It's looking more and more like Hurricane Joaquin won't make landfall in the US and join the list of most horrific storms in US history.

Photo courtesy: AP

Hurricane Audrey, 1957: 416 deaths

The U.S. started naming storms with women's names starting in 1953. Hurricane Audrey, the first storm of the 1957 hurricane season was the deadliest of the 1950s. It originated in the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm. This image of the storm shows just how far hurricane imaging has come.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Atlantic-Gulf, 1919: 600 to 900 deaths

This Category 4 storm swept into the Gulf of Mexico right under Key West, Florida(pictured), landing as a Category 3 storm in Corpus Christi, Texas. Anywhere from 600 to 900 people died in that storm.

Hurricane Katrina, 2005: 1,200 deaths

Hurricane Katrina is arguably the most notorious storm of the 21st century. The storm made landfall as a Category 5 near Miami before striking Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. Katrina was the third deadliest, and costliest hurricane in U.S. history with more than 1,200 deaths and $108 billion in damage.

Photo courtesy: Reuters

San Felipe Okeechobee, 1928: 2,500 deaths

This hurricane was the second deadliest in US history, with more than 2,500 deaths. The Category 4 storm made landfall in Palm Beach on September 10, 1928. Puerto Rico got hit hard as well, with winds at 144 mph.

Photo courtesy: NOAA

Galveston, Texas in 1900: 8,000 to 12,000 deaths

The deadliest hurricane in US history happened at the turn of the 20th century. The Category 4 of 5 hurricane -- with winds anywhere from 130-156 mph -- made landfall in Galveston, Texas (pictured), then headed north through the Great Plains. Anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 people died in the storm.

Photo courtesy: Creative Commons

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(MORE: Where Every U.S. Landfalling Hurricane First Formed)

The Weather Company, an IBM Business, updated its seasonal forecast in July and also expects a total of 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and three major hurricanes this season. This is an increase from its earlier forecasts as well, mainly due to the same factors stated in the CSU outlook.

The official Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Occasionally, storms can form outside those months, as Tropical Storm Arlene did this year. It also occurred last season with January's Hurricane Alex and late May's Tropical Storm Bonnie.

(MORE: Where and When the Season's First Hurricane Typically Forms)

While six named storms had already formed through early August, all but Hurricane Franklin were relatively short-lived.

Using the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) index, a measure of tropical cyclone activity calculated by adding each tropical storm or hurricane's wind speed throughout its life cycle, Klotzbach found the 2017 Atlantic season was off to its slowest start in eight years before Franklin formed.

RELATED: Severe weather in the US 2017

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Severe weather in the US 2017 -- tornadoes, snowstorms, flooding, hail
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Severe weather in the US 2017 -- tornadoes, snowstorms, flooding, hail
Abdel Salah, the owner of Sam's Food and Liquor Store surveys damage after a series of tornados tore through in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ben Depp
Heavy thunderstorm clouds fill the sky over Center City Philadelphia, PA, on Feb. 25, 2017. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Residents clear their cars and street of snow in Weehawken, New Jersey, as the One World Trade Center and lower Manhattan are seen after a snowstorm in New York, U.S. March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
PERRYVILLE, MO - MARCH 01: A utility pole was downed during last night's tornado on March 1, 2017 in Perryville, Missouri. At least one person was killed when the tornado crossed interstate 55. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Birds sit on some branches in Central Park in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella dumped sleet and snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday but spared New York from the worst after authorities cancelled thousands of flights and shut schools. Blizzard warnings were in effect in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York, but were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet, hail and rain. / AFP PHOTO / Eric BARADAT (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
PERRYVILLE, MO - MARCH 01: A house along Pcr 906 is destroyed after last night's tornado on March 1, 2017 in Perryville, Missouri. At least one person was killed when the tornado crossed interstate 55. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Heavy thunderstorm clouds fill the sky over Center City Philadelphia, PA, on Feb. 25, 2017. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
PERRYVILLE, MO - MARCH 01: A shed for farm equipment on Pcr 906 collapsed and metal sheeting was tangled in trees after last night's tornado, on March 1, 2017 in Perryville, Missouri. At least one person was killed when the tornado crossed interstate 55. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
PERRYVILLE, MO - MARCH 01: A house and garage were destroyed on Hwy V after last night's tornado on March 1, 2017 in Perryville, Missouri. At least one person was killed when the tornado crossed interstate 55. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
A resident clears the street of snow in Weehawken, New Jersey, as the Empire State Building and Middle Manhattan are seen after a snowstorm in New York, U.S. March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Debris covers a street in New Orleans East after a series of tornados tore through New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, leaving trees, power lines and homes and businesses leveled, in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ben Depp
Tien Nguyen cleans up debris in "Q" Nail studio on Chef Menteur highway which he and his wife own, they survived the tornado by sheltering in the bathroom, a tornados tore through New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, leaving trees, power lines and homes and businesses leveled, in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ben Depp
Two snowmen sit in Central Park in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella dumped sleet and snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday but spared New York from the worst after authorities cancelled thousands of flights and shut schools. Blizzard warnings were in effect in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York, but were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet, hail and rain. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Trailers lie on their sides behind a Procter and Gamble warehouse after a tornado ripped through the area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
A snowplow clears snow in Times Square during a snowstorm in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A gas sign from a gas station sits in a tree nearby after a tornado ripped through the area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
Friends used there snow day to go sledding on a hill at 47th street northwest and Massachusetts Avenue in Washington on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella dumped sleet and snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday but spared New York from the worst after authorities cancelled thousands of flights and shut schools. Blizzard warnings were in effect in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York, but were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet, hail and rain. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A police car pushes a cab stuck on a snow and sleet-covered street in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella dumped sleet and snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday but spared New York from the worst after authorities cancelled thousands of flights and shut schools. Blizzard warnings were in effect in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York, but were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet, hail and rain. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
The Rustic Barn, an event hall, which suffered major tornado damage, is seen from an unmanned aerial vehicle in Canton, Texas, April 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brandon Wade TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Homeowners clean up debris after a tornado hit the town of Emory, Texas, U.S. April 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brandon Wade
Homes are severely damaged after a tornado hit the town of Emory, Texas, U.S. April 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brandon Wade
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However, Klotzbach also cautioned that by the same ACE index measure, about 90 percent of a typical Atlantic hurricane season still remained after August 9.

What Does This Mean For the United States?

There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season. One or more of the additional named storms forecast to develop this season could hit the U.S., or none at all. Therefore, residents of the coastal U.S. should prepare each year, no matter the forecast.

A couple of classic examples that show the need to prepare each year occurred in 1992 and 1983.

The 1992 season produced only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane.

In 1983, there were only four named storms, but one of them was Alicia. The Category 3 hurricane hit the Houston-Galveston area and caused almost as many direct fatalities along the Texas coast as Andrew did in South Florida.

(MORE: Sudden-Developing Storms/Hurricanes Near the U.S.)

In contrast, the 2010 season was active. There were 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic Basin. Despite the large number of storms that year, no hurricanes and only one tropical storm made landfall in the U.S.

In other words, a season can deliver many storms but have little impact, or deliver few storms with one or more causing major impacts to the U.S. coast.

he U.S. averages one to two hurricane landfalls each season, according to NOAA's Hurricane Research Division statistics.

In 2016, five named storms impacted the Southeast coast, most notably the powerful hit from Hurricane Matthew and its subsequent inland rainfall flooding.

(MORE: Hermine Ended Florida's Record Hurricane Drought)

Prior to that, the number of U.S. landfalls had been well below average over the previous 10 years.

The 10-year running total of U.S. hurricane landfalls from 2006 through 2015 was seven, according to Alex Lamers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. This was a record low for any 10-year period dating to 1850, and considerably lower than the average of 17 per 10-year period dating to 1850, Lamers added.

Of course, the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season was outside that current 10-year running total. It was also the last season we saw a Category 3 or stronger hurricane (Wilma) hit the U.S., the longest such streak dating to the mid-19th century.

(MORE: 10 Reasons the U.S. Major Hurricane Drought is Misleading)

The bottom line: it's impossible to know for certain if a U.S. hurricane strike, or multiple strikes, will occur this season. Keep in mind, however, that even a weak tropical storm hitting the U.S. can cause major impacts, particularly if it moves slowly and triggers flooding rainfall.

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