More forecasters say 2012 will be quiet in the tropics

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Predictions continue to come in about this year's hurricane season, and more forecasters are saying that 2012 will be an average year in terms of the number of hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic.

AccuWeather and WSI have joined the ranks of other long-range forecasters including Colorado State University in predicting a year much quieter than the last two.

An average hurricane season in the Atlantic sees the formation of 12 tropical storms.  Of these, 6 become hurricanes, and 2 ultimately strengthen into major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher.

What's responsible for the relatively quiet hurricane forecast?  El Nino conditions are forecast to return to the Pacific.  El Nino usually leads to an increase in wind shear in the Atlantic, which can rip developing tropical systems apart before they ever get started.  Additionally, sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic have cooled, providing less fuel to energize the storms.

It's important to note that it only takes one storm to do significant damage.  Even though we're far from the coast, a storm making landfall anywhere in the Carolinas can cause significant flooding and spawn tornadoes hundreds of miles inland.

Also, there is still uncertainty in April forecasts.  Predictions are usually modified at the onset of hurricane season, which begins June 1.  The official prediction from the Climate Prediction Center will be issued about a week before, on May 24.