(CNSNews.com) - The 2017 hurricane season begins today, June 1--a record 139 months after the last major hurricane made landfall in the continental United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA is currently predicting that an "above normal Atlantic hurricane season is likely for this year."
The last major hurricane to hit the continental United States was Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. That year, four major hurricanes hit the continental United States, according to NOAA. They included Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
But since Wilma hit on Oct. 24, 2005, no Category 3 or above hurricane has made landfall in the continental United States, making May 24, 2017, the end of a record 139 months without a major hurricane strike.
Prior to this, the longest stretch on record in which a major hurricane did not hit the contintental United States, according to NOAA's records, was the 96 months between September 1860 and August 1869. NOAA has published data on all hurricanes striking the United States since 1851.
A "major hurricane" is defined as one that is Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which means it has sustained wind speeds of more than 111 miles per hour and is capable of causing “devastating” or “catastrophic” damage.
"For the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-norman season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season," NOAA says on its website.
"Forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher)," says NOAA, "of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)."
"An average season," said NOAA, "produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes."