Atlantic hurricane forecast upgraded

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NOAA issued its updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook on Thursday, raising the number of expected named storms from its preseason outlook issued in May.

Forecasters also increased their confidence that 2011 will be an active Atlantic hurricane season. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, updates its Atlantic hurricane season outlook every August.

“The atmosphere and Atlantic Ocean are primed for high hurricane activity during August through October,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center. “Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we’ve seen so far this season.”

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Meanwhile the mountains of Hispaniola are taking some of the steam out of Tropical Storm Emily. Forecasters said Tropical Storm Emily could be downgraded later Thursday into a tropical wave after hitting the mountains.

The latest long-term forecast placed the disturbance well to the east of Central Florida this weekend, but experts say people in the region shouldn't be lulled into complacency.

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