The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association recently released their predictions for the upcoming Atlantic Hurricane season and, in a welcome change of pace, they’re looking pretty good. There is a 50-percent chance that this will be a below normal hurricane season, and a 40-percent chance that it will be a near normal hurricane season. I’m not a betting man (in this case anyway, since I can’t find a bookie that bets on hurricane predictions) but those odds are looking pretty good to me. The reason we can breathe a little easier this year? Everyone’s favorite little weather system—El Niño. El Niño causes a stronger wind shear, which in turn tends to lower the intensity and number of tropical storms and hurricanes. Also, it tends to bump up the trade winds, which makes it harder for storms coming off of Africa to rest offshore and build strength. So, NOAA is predicting 70-percent chance of 8 to 13 named storms, of which 3 to 6 could be hurricanes, out of which 1 or 2 might be major hurricanes. All of these numbers are down from previous predictions.