Hurricane Madeleine approaching Hawaii from the east in August 2016. Satellite photo courtesy NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted Thursday that the 2017 hurricane season in the eastern Pacific stands a good chance of being above normal.

The federal agency, of which the National Weather Service is a part, predicted an 80 percent chance of a near- or above-normal season in both the eastern and central Pacific regions.

The outlook in the eastern Pacific, closest to California, calls for a 70 percent probability of 14 to 20 named storms, of which 6 to 11 are expected to become hurricanes, including 3 to 7 major hurricanes.

“This outlook reflects the possible transition to a weak El Nino during the hurricane season, along with near- or above-average ocean temperatures in the main hurricane formation region, and near- or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that area,” said Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster.

“If El Nino develops, it may become strong enough to produce an above-normal season,” Bell added.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs until November 30.

NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu continuously monitors weather conditions, employing a network of satellites, land- and ocean-based sensors and aircraft reconnaissance missions operated by NOAA and its partners.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.