This year's Atlantic tropical storm season, which starts this week, may see a marked change from last year, with far fewer and weaker storms predicted in the latest Met Office forecast.
The 2012 season, which runs from June to November, is likely to see seven to 13 tropical storms - with a prediction for 10.
This is less than the 1980-2010 average of 12 storms and marks a change from the past two years, which have both been particularly active with 19 storms each.
The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index - which measures the number of storms and their combined strength - is also likely to be slightly lower than average this year, with a most likely value of 90 compared to the 1980-2010 average of 104.
There is a relatively wide range in the ACE index for 2012, with a 70% chance that the number will be between 28 and 152. This is partly due to the current uncertainty in the evolution of the El Niño/La Niña cycle over the next few months.
Joanne Camp, climate scientist at the Met Office, said: "El Niño conditions in the Pacific can hinder the development of tropical storms in the Atlantic, so how this develops will be important for the storm season ahead - particularly from August onwards, which is normally the most active time for tropical storms."
The tropical storm forecast is produced using the Met Office's seasonal prediction system called GloSea4. The model has better representation of the complex physical processes that cause tropical storms and hurricanes to form, thus improving the accuracy of the forecast. The forecast also uses information from the seasonal prediction system of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).