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Most active Atlantic Hurricane Season since 2012 could yield additional storms through November

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The 2016 hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin is the most active since 2012, and with around six weeks remaining in the season, additional storms may be added to the tally.

With the formation of Matthew on Sept. 28, the official storm count for the season rose to 13, surpassing the seasonal average of 12 named storms.

AccuWeather meteorologists predicted an above-average season in the Atlantic Basin due to several key factors relating to tropical development.

A transition from El Niño to a neutral or weak La Niña state was expected earlier in the year and was one factor influencing the tropical season.

El Niño refers to above-average water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific near South America. A La Niña state is the reverse, corresponding to below-average temperatures in this region.

Both states alter the location and strength of upper-level winds in the atmosphere which affect tropical systems.

"The influence of this transition has lessened wind shear across the main developmental region in the Atlantic Basin and has allowed for a more conducive environment for tropical systems [to form]," AccuWeather Meteorologist Ed Vallee said.

Wind shear refers to the changing wind direction and speed with height in the atmosphere.

"In addition to lessened wind shear, above-normal sea surface temperatures and lessening Saharan dust allowed the end of September and beginning of October to be quite active," Vallee said.

Eleven of the 14 named storms occurred during the middle of the hurricane season, including Matthew and Nicole.

Matthew has been the most powerful and deadliest hurricane of the season reaching Category 5 status on the Saffir-Simpson Scale and killing hundreds of people.

Peak sustained winds were 160 mph when Matthew was at its strongest. Before Matthew, the last Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin was Felix eight years prior.

Following Matthew, Nicole formed on Oct. 4 and would eventually blast Bermuda with destructive wind and torrential rain.

The current season has featured some other notable hurricanes. Hurricane Alex formed in January, well before the official season start date of June 1. Alex was the first Atlantic hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938.

Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Florida, ending an 11-year hurricane landfall drought for the state.

Tropical Atlantic to remain quiet for now

Around six weeks separate now to the end of the hurricane season on Nov. 30, and additional storms will be possible during this time. However, AccuWeather meteorologists expect a lull in activity over the next few days.

"The Atlantic Basin remains relatively quiet outside of Nicole, which is not unusual for mid-October," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

There are currently two tropical waves being monitored, one in the Caribbean and another in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. However, neither are expected to strengthen in the near future, if at all.

By middle and late October, tropical waves moving off the coast of Africa become less frequent. Typical tropical cyclone spawning areas during this time include the southern Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and near the Bahamas.

"These areas will have unfavorable environmental conditions through the middle of next week," Kottlowski said.

This general area will still need to be monitored going forward. A broad area of low pressure is expected to develop in this area early next week. If wind shear can relax later in the week, this feature could become better organized. The next tropical system will take on the name Otto.