With Hurricane Bud churning off Mexico, NOAA is predicting a near-normal season for the Eastern Pacific, calling for between 12-18 named storms and between 5-9 hurricanes.
Bud, which has triggered tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches for parts of western Mexico, is the second named storm and the first hurricane of the 2012 season.
Based on climate conditions, NOAA also predicts that 2-5 hurricanes could become major hurricanes, of Category 3 or higher.
An average season for the Eastern Pacific is 15 named storms. The season runs from May 15 through Nov. 30, with peak storm activity July through September.
By NOAA's account, there is a 50% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% probability of a below-normal season, and a 20% probability of an above-normal season.
Hurricane Bud on Thursday morning was strengthening with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. According to its current track it could make landfall, as a tropical storm, early Saturday in the Puerto Vallarta region. Heavy rain and flooding is expected in the states of Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco and southern Nayarit.
-- Satellite image shows Hurricane Bud churning west of Mexico