But overall, forecasters are expecting the 2014 season to be relatively calm due to the effects of El Nino, which causes stronger wind shear that prevents hurricanes from developing into major storms that cause the most damage.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's official forecast for 2014 calls for eight to 13 named storms, three to six hurricanes and just one or two major hurricanes. An organized system becomes a tropical storm when its winds reach 39 miles per hour; a hurricane designation is given to a storm once its winds reach 74 miles per hour.
Meteorologists at the NOAA said this year's predictions are slight below the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010.
“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions across the tropical Pacific are already taking on some El Niño characteristics. Also, we are currently seeing strong trade winds and wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, and NOAA’s climate models predict these conditions will persist, in part because of El Niño,” said Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The expectation of near-average Atlantic Ocean temperatures this season, rather than the above-average temperatures seen since 1995, also suggests fewer Atlantic hurricanes.”
The NOAA's outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.
The potential for a slower-than-normal hurricane season is welcomes by Jersey Shore residents still rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy struck in October 2012. A promised beach and dune replenishment project will not get underway in Ocean County until September, leaving the area, and especially its barrier islands, vulnerable to any strong storm that would hit before the project is completed.
The long-time mantra of "it only takes one" is forever solidified in the minds of Shore residents, as echoed by national forecasters such as Kathryn Sullivan, the NOAA administrator.
"Even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it’s important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster," she said.
2014 Tropical Storm/Hurricane Names: