MIAMI (WBOC/AP)- Federal forecasters predict there will be about nine to 15 storms during this year's Atlantic hurricane season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its initial outlook Thursday for the six-month storm season that officially begins June 1.
The season got an early start when Tropical Storm Alberto formed last Saturday off South Carolina's coast.
The agency predicts that this year's total will include four to eight hurricanes. One to three of those could become major hurricanes.
"NOAA's outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. "But regardless of the outlook, it's vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared."
Lubhenco noted that this season marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. The Category 5 hurricane, which devastated south Florida on Aug. 24, 1992, was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named storms.
Last year marked the sixth consecutive year without the U.S. landfall of a major hurricane, which are classified as Category 3 storms with sustained winds of 111 mph or higher.
Next week, May 27- June 2, is national Hurricane Preparedness Week. For more information click here.