The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts “near-normal hurricane activity” in the Atlantic this coming storm season, the UN weather agency said Friday, forecasting between five and nine major storms that could become hurricanes. The US National Hurricane Center acts as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)’s Regional Specialized Meteorological hub, based in Miami, Florida. There is a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent possibility of an “above-normal season”, and also 30 percent of a below-normal season, according to forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center. The hurricane season covering the Atlantic region, including the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and US east coast, lasts from 1 June to 30 November. NOAA forecasts between 12 and 17 total named storms, which means winds of at least 63 kilometres per hour, or 39 miles per hour. Among the potential hurricanes, it forecasts one to four “major hurricanes” categories three to five “with winds of at least 178kmh, or 111mph. WMO said that NOAA has “a 70 percent confidence in these ranges. “It is expected to be less active than recent years, due to competing factors – some that suppress storm development and some that fuel it – driving this year’s overall forecast for a near-normal season, according to NOAA”, WMO reported in a press release. The agency reminded, however, that it takes just one landfalling major hurricane to set back years of growth and development. Statistics presented to the ongoing World Meteorological Congress showed how Small Island Developing States suffer disproportionately in terms of both economic impact and the human toll.