The coming hurricane season is expected to be more active than usual by several forecasters.

AccuWeather is the latest to join the chorus, forecasting 16 named tropical storms, eight of which will develop into hurricanes, four of them major, with three hurricanes making landfall in the United States.

An average Atlantic hurricane season - officially June 1 through November - has a dozen named storms, including six hurricanes, two of them major (Categories 3, 4 or 5). That's based on the three decades from 1981 to 2010.

Colorado State University's prediction, released last month, called for 18 major storms, including nine hurricanes, four of them major. The Weather Channel's numbers were 16, 9 and 5.

The accuracy and value of such forecasts can be questioned.

Last year, for example, AccuWeather called for a busy season, with 10 hurricanes. Instead, there were five.

And yet it produced Sandy, the largest hurricane on record and the second worst in terms of economic impact, causing an estimated $75 billion in damage. Only Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005, ranks as a bigger catastrophe.

So hurricane counts suggest a very partial story.

No long-range forecast can predict the timing and track of future major storms.

"The exact areas to be directly impacted this season and the severity of those impacts remain unclear," notes AccuWeather writer Jillian MacMath.

But forecasters are concerned about ways to better warn the public, in hopes of saving lives, alleviating property damage, and steering evacuation strategies.

Two areas being addressed: Warning about the dangers of storm surges, and continuing to warn the public that storms like Sandy can be devastating even after officially losing hurricane status.

So said National Hurricane Center director Rick Knabb, according to a discussion at WeatherUnderground.com.

"Now the hurricane center will continue to put out warnings and advisories if a storm threatens people and land, even if it's no longer called a hurricane or tropical storm," according to Weather Underground.

"2012 was all about water, water, water. Debby, Isaac, Sandy," Knabb said. "It was storm surge from the ocean, it was inland flooding, it was river flooding."

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.