Waves from Tropical Storm Isaias crash along the Patchogue shore...

Waves from Tropical Storm Isaias crash along the Patchogue shore last August. LIPA and PSEG officials disagree about PSEG's readiness for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season after massive power outages from Isaias. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

Brace for an above-normal hurricane season Long Island, though the experts latest prediction of between six and 10 of the powerful storms forming in the Atlantic Ocean falls short of 2020's devastating total of 14.

Still, the forecast for the June to November period easily tops the typical season, when there are only three major hurricanes, according to data tracked since 1990, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

There is a 70% probability that 13 to 20 named storms will arise, with top winds of at least 39 mph, the NOAA said in a statement. That is about half the minimum wind speed of 74 mph for a hurricane.

In a typical season, there are 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Storms were so frequent in the 2020 hurricane season that forecasters ran out of names and began using the Greek alphabet.

Three to five of the hurricanes expected in the 2021 season will become the most dangerous types, ranked as categories 3, 4, or 5, with top winds of at least 111 mph.

Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator, told reporters the odds of an unusually busy season are 60%. There is a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of it being below-normal.

NOAA and U.S. Department of Commerce officials urged everyone to prepare ahead for storm surges, high winds, and flooding that can ravage communities.

LIPA said its customers face "considerable risk" as the storm season approaches because PSEG Long Island "still does not have a fully tested" storm-outage management and communication systems in place.

PSEG said its systems have undergone rigorous upgrades, tuning and "numerous tests," and are "ready for storm season." But LIPA told its trustees it "disagrees," and wants PSEG, which runs the Long Island grid under an $80 million-a-year contract, to "conduct another [comprehensive] test" of all the systems at once, during regular business hours.

Newsday has reported for months about the tension between LIPA and PSEG following PSEG's failed response in August to Tropical Storm Isaias. Revelations after the storm included that PSEG knew about problems before the storm.

Don Graves, deputy commerce secretary, said that 2020 was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in 170 years, with 30 named storms, including seven that each caused more than $1 billion in damage, among 22 record-setting weather and climate events that cost $96 billion.

New strategies the NOAA said it is deploying to improve its predictions range from upgraded computer systems to predict storm surges, "ocean wave forecasts from 10 days out to 16 days out," along with assorted drones, gliders and floats.

However, predictions for the metropolitan area are "best made about a week before landfall. Take the time to prepare," said Matthew Rosencrans of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

With Mark Harrington and AP

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