Due to in part to improvements in the Doppler radar used by NOAA's hurricane hunter aircraft, intensity forecasts are also likely to be 10 percent to 15 percent more accurate than in the past, said Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane season forecaster for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
Last year's season was expected to be average, but surpassed early predictions. It will be remembered primarily for Hurricane Sandy, which killed more than 100 people and cost nearly $50 billion in damage along the U.S. Northeast. But Sandy was only the last hurricane in a very active - and unusual - season.
One of the busiest on record, the 2012 season also saw weaker-than-average cyclones and began earlier than usual. There were 19 named tropical storms last year in the Atlantic Ocean basin, tying 2012 at third for most named-storms in recorded history. The top spot goes to the 2005 season, which saw 28 named storms.
Two storms, Alberto and Beryl, spun up this spring before the official hurricane season start date of June 1, an unusual occurrence. The named storms resulted from warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures throughout the Atlantic. Beryl was the earliest second-named storm of any season since record-keeping began in 1950, according to government records. The official start date is a human-imposed one based on statistical averages of hurricane season starts.