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RIMS flags drop-off in hurricane numbers

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Early season analysis predicts below-average Atlantic hurricane activity this year thanks to the developing El Nino in the Southern Ocean, the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) says.

A weak El Nino is likely to persist throughout the northern summer, which will disrupt the formation of hurricanes. There is a 55-60% chance it could continue through the entire hurricane season.

Atlantic hurricanes caused $US50 billion ($72.47 billion) of damage last year, RIMS says.

There were 15 named storms, eight of which became hurricanes. Usually, about six hurricanes are expected.

RIMS warns even a below-average hurricane season can cause major supply chain disruption, destroying infrastructure and disrupting transport.

About 1.2 million Americans live in coastal areas at risk of hurricanes, and government costs reach nearly $28 billion ($40.58 billion) per year.