Two of the biggest private weather forecasting companies, AccuWeather and the Weather Channel, are both predicting a near or slightly below-average season. AccuWeather predicts 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes. The Weather Channel has a forecast of 11 named storms, of which 5 become hurricanes. A normal tropical season has 12 named storms, with 6 becoming hurricanes.
Last year a total of 19 storms developed. The combination of much cooler North Atlantic ocean temperatures and a trend towards El Nino conditions suggest less activity this year. The federal government's 2012 hurricane forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be released May 24.