for National Geographic News
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) lowered its forecast this morning for the 2006 hurricane season, predicting three or four major hurricanes instead of the four to six originally forecast.
But federal meteorologists think the remainder of the season will still be busy.
NOAA forecasters expect that 12 to 15 named tropical storms will form in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Seven to nine of those storms will evolve into hurricanes with winds of at least 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour, the forecasters say.
In May NOAA predicted that 13 to 16 tropical storms would spawn eight to ten hurricanes and four to six major hurricanes.
An average season produces 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. Major hurricanes are storms with winds of at least 111 miles (178 kilometers) an hour.
NOAA follows Colorado State University's forecast team in lowering its hurricane prediction for 2006.
(Read "Hurricane Forecast Revised Downward" [August 3, 2006].)
Last week CSU forecasters predicted that three major hurricanes would form before the season ends November 30.
As of last week only three named storms had formed in the Atlantic Basin since June 1. None of them developed into hurricanes.
NOAA officials warned, however, that the slow start of the 2006 season is not an indication that the remainder of the summer would be quiet.
"This year's three named storms may pale in comparison to the record nine storms that formed through early August 2005, but conditions will be favorable for above-normal activity for the rest of this seasonso we are not off the hook by any means," NOAA administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher said in a prepared statement.
Hurricane-Forming Factors Still at Work
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