Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say that 2014's hurricane season will probably be slower than average. Hurricane expert Jeff Masters offers this post on his Weather Underground blog (see: "NOAA Predicts a Quiet Atlantic Hurricane Season: 8 - 13 Named Storms," by Jeff Masters).

"NOAA's prediction, issued this Thursday morning, forecasts a 50% chance of a below-normal season, a 40% chance of an near-normal season, and only a 10% chance of an above-normal season," writes Masters. "They predict a 70% chance that there will be 8-13 named storms, 3-6 hurricanes, and 1-2 major hurricanes, with an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) 40%-100% of the median. If we take the midpoint of these numbers, NOAA is calling for 10.5 named storms, 4.5 hurricanes, 1.5 major hurricanes, and an ACE index 70% of normal. This is below the 1981-2010 average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Hurricane seasons during the active hurricane period 1995-2013 have averaged 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes, with an ACE index 151% of the median."

Colorado State University's long-range prediction team, another big name in the forecasting field, also sees a weak season, Masters notes: "The CSU team is calling for 9 named storms, 3 hurricanes, and 1 intense hurricane, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 55, a little more than half of average." But a third organization, British-based Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), sees an average season ahead: "The April 7 forecast for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season made by TSR calls for 12 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 75," Masters writes.

Long-range forecasters have been embarrassed in recent years by a noticeable lack of accuracy. When he released his organization's long-range forecast for 2014 at the National Hurricane Center's annual conference in Orlando this April, Colorado State climatologist William Gray had to try to live down the group's worst-ever forecast from 2013. "For the past two years, predictions have been off — way off in the case of 2013, which Gray called a 'bust,'" reported the Miami Herald (see: "At Orlando hurricane conference, predictions for a quiet season, plus apologies," by Jenny Staletovich). "Colorado State had predicted an active season, with 18 named storms and eight to nine major storms. Instead, it was slow, with 13 named storms and only two hurricanes."

Said the 84-year-old Gray: "It's hard to go all these years and then make your worst forecast after 30 years. It's not very good progress."