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No ‘repeat of last year’s’ hurricane season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts there will be a significant number of storms and major hurricanes during this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

“For the 2006 North Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become ‘major’ hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher,” NOAA administrator Conrad Lautenbacher says in a statement released Monday.

A ‘major’ hurricane is rated Category 3 (111 to 130 mph winds) or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

Warmer ocean water, lower wind shear and weaker easterly trade winds have contributed to an increased number of storms over recent years, as well as their increased intensity, the agency says. On average the north Atlantic hurricane season sees 11 named storms, six becoming hurricanes, including two major hurricanes. In 2005 the season contained a record 28 storms, including 15 hurricanes, seven of which were considered “major.”

“Although NOAA is not forecasting a repeat of last year’s season,” Lautenbacher says, “the potential for hurricanes striking the U.S. is high.”

The weather agency also is urging people to make better preparations this year to protect themselves from hurricanes, according to the release. The hurricane season is defined as starting June 1 and ending Nov. 30, although storms have developed before and after those dates.

—Jason Fell