From Emily to Dennis, they hit early. They hit hard. By mid-July, seven named storms had tormented coastal communities, an unprecedented number so early in the season.
In its revised forecast, NOAA predicts the worst is yet to come.
"Atlantic warmth, 2-3 degrees above normal, one of main factors indicates an active season, not record warmth," said Gerry Bell, NOAA lead meteorologist.
In the last ten years, hurricanes have been more powerful and more unrelenting. A researcher at MIT thinks he's discovered why.
"We've seen an increase of about half a degree Centigrade in the tropics of the last 50 years of so," said Prof. Kerry Emanuel.
Emanuel's study, to be published in the journal "Nature," concludes that the rising temperature of the sea due to global warming is feeding the fury of the storms.
Some leading scientists say the study is not a smoking gun, and NOAA downplays the global warming effects, emphasizing that the upswing in intense hurricanes is part of a natural cycle.
The study author himself used to be among those that doubted the link, but real-world evidence has convinced him otherwise.