The first of what will no doubt become many tropical weather forecasts and storm predictions for the 2014 hurricane season is hot off the presses and has been released by researchers at Colorado State University. If forecasters are right, it should be a relatively slow year for hurricane development across the Atlantic Basin.

While that may be good news for coastal residents on the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coastlines, farmers as far inland as Kansas and the Ohio Valley say tropical systems in the summer often represent hope for crop-saving moisture, especially during active storm years.

Last week the climatologists and meteorologists at Colorado State University (CSU) released their 2014 hurricane season predictions. They are calling for a relatively quiet season with nine named storms, five hurricanes and one major (Category 3 or higher) storm this year, considerably below the long-term average.

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CSU's Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, noted tropical forecasters, cited several factors that may contribute to a below-average season this year. An El Niño, or ENSO pattern, is expected to form in the Pacific Ocean as we head into hurricane season. This typically increases the amount of wind shear across the Atlantic, which helps to disrupt tropical cyclone formation.

The same pattern that brought abnormally cool weather to the east coast this winter has helped to lower water temperatures across the Atlantic. These cooler than normal water temperatures are expected to continue into hurricane season, potentially reducing tropical cyclone intensities and frequencies.

CSU is projecting a 20 percent chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. East Coast this season. The average for the last century is 31 percent, well above CSU's early projection.

Regardless whether the summer of 2014 brings more or fewer tropical systems to U.S. waters, climate scientists are saying agriculture is already showing signs of change. Andy Jarvis, Policy Analysis Research Area Director for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, says climate change has become a tangible reality for farmers in tropical and subtropical regions.

He says researchers have already found that increasingly erratic weather and high temperatures are changing the growing patterns of world commodities like chocolate and coffee. But Jarvis says they will also affect other crops in the near future.