This May 20, 2012 satellite image provided by NASA and NOAA, shows Alberto, the first tropical storm of the 2012 season off the southeastern US coast. (HO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Robert Detrick, director of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, told a press conference at the National Hurricane Center in Miami that NOAA expects expects 9 to 15 named tropical storms with winds faster than 39 mph to form during the June 1-Nov. 30 hurricane season.

NOAA’s forecasters say 4 to 8 of these should grow into 74 mph or stronger hurricanes, and 1 to 3 to become major hurricanes with winds faster than 111 mph.

If the forecasts turn out to be correct, this year would be close to the 1981-2010 30-year hurricane seasonal average of 12.1 named storms, 6.4 hurricanes, and 2.7 major hurricanes.

Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane season forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said the forecast is based on “competing factors beginning with the fact that we are in an active era that began in 1995 and the possibility of an El Nino forming late in the season.” If an El Nino forms that could mean the season would end with a number of storms at the low end of the range.

The NOAA forecast agrees in general with forecasts by other groups made earlier this spring. Weather Gang reports on these other forecasts:

AccuWeather and WSI forecast average hurricane season
Hurricane season to be quieter than normal forecasters say
Related: A hurricane before Memorial Day? | WeatherBug Hurricane Season Outlook