for National Geographic News
Forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins say the 2006 hurricane season will be "very active," producing five major storms between June 1 and November 30.
But the experts doubt that this summer's will be as spectacularly destructive as last year's.
Meteorologists William Gray and Phil Klotzbach at CSU released their forecast this morning.
They expect 17 named tropical storms to form, nine of which are expected to develop into hurricanes. Of those nine, five will grow into at least Category 3, or major, hurricanes.
(Learn more about the hurricane intensity scale.)
The CSU forecasters add that there's an 82 percent probability that one major hurricane will make landfall somewhere on the U.S. coast. That contrasts with an average likelihood of 52 percent.
The scientists also say that Florida and the East Coast are the most likely places to be hit by a hurricane, judging by the upper-level winds that steer the storms.
In a prepared statement, Klotzbach said the Atlantic Ocean "remains anomalously warm." Hurricanes draw their power from warm ocean water.
The scientists also note that the weather condition known as El Niño is not present this season.
El Niño creates upper-level winds and other conditions that make it difficult for hurricanes to develop.
(See an interactive feature on what causes hurricanes.)
"When the tropical Atlantic is warm and neutral conditions are present, Atlantic Basin hurricane activity is usually enhanced," Klotzbach said.
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