According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States can expect more storms than usual this year.

Forecasters expect 11 to 17 named storms during the 2017 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. 5 to 9 of these named storms could become hurricanes, having winds of 74 miles per hour and above, while 2 to 4 of the storms could become Category 3 or higher hurricanes, having winds of 111 miles per hour or more.

This is a slight increase in storms in comparison to last year. In 2016, the NOAA expected 10 to 16 named storms. Fifteen storms occurred, with four of them being Category 3 or higher hurricanes.

Both 2016 and 2017 are considered to be above average hurricane seasons. A normal season includes 12 storms, 3 of them becoming major hurricanes.

There is only a 20 percent chance of the hurricane season being normal in 2017, while there is 35 percent chance of a normal season and 45 percent chance of an above-normal season.

2017’s hurricane season has also gotten off to an early start. Last month a rare preseason tropical storm, Arlene, became only the second April tropical storm to occur in the satellite era. Fortunately, the storm remained in the central Atlantic Ocean, far from land.

Lead seasonal hurricane forecaster Gerry Bell stated that the NOAA expected the Atlantic Ocean to have warm sea surface temperatures, thereby increasing the power of the storm. However, the NOAA expects El Niño conditions, which warm the Pacific Ocean and usually subdue Atlantic storms, to be weak or nonexistent. There is also the possibility of weaker wind shear, which suppresses hurricanes as well.

However, according to Kerry A. Emmanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, publishing these hurricane forecasts can be “inadvertently misleading.”

What truly matters is not the number of named storms but the amount of damaging storms that actually reach land, affecting people and property.

No one pretends to be able to forecast the incidence of dangerous, landfalling storms,” said Emmanuel.

A season with numerous storms may not produce any that reach the United States, while a season with a small amount of hurricanes may be extremely destructive. This occurred in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew became one of the most destructive hurricanes to strike to U.S.

A storm also does not need to be a hurricane to cause damage. Hurricane Sandy, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached land, “hit the Northeast and caused $75 billion worth of damage, the second most costly hurricane of all time and one that we’re still recovering from,” said Ben Friedman, interim head of the NOAA.

Nonetheless, Americans must still be prepared for the hurricane season. Those living in areas likely to be hit by hurricanes should know their personal risk, buy flood insurance, prepare an evacuation plan and buy emergency supplies.

“Preparedness saves lives,” said Mary Erickson, the deputy director of the National Weather Service.

“There is the potential for a lot of activity this hurricane season,” added Friedman. “We can’t stop hurricanes, but we can prepare for them.”

To help people determine their personal risk from hurricanes, the NOAA is now offering several online tools, such as more precise storm arrival times than recent years.

President Trump’s recently released budget plan proposes cuts to NOAA programs, which could detract from its new forecasting initiates.

However, according to former NOAA chief operating officer David W. Titley, the proposed budget should be dead on arrival in Congress, and the cuts should not be put into action. Congressmen just recently passed a bill accommodating more funding for forecasting, which President Trump signed.

“There’s no way they’re going to approve this,” Titley noted.