Washington - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offered some dire predictions today, stating that the Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than forecasters first predicted, with up to 10 hurricanes expected to form.

The agency is prediction between 14 and 18 named storms in 2008, with seven to 10 becoming hurricanes and three to six of them being classified as "major" hurricanes.

In May, the agency forecast 12 to 16 named storms this season, with six to nine developing into hurricanes. Two to five could be major ones of Category 3 or higher with winds above 110 miles per hour (177 km per hour).

Although relatively little press has been given to the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, there have already been five tropical storms so far. NOAA says favorable oceanic and atmospheric conditions, warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures and lingering effects from La Nina are the cause. The agency said the above-average activity made July the third most active on record dating back to 1886.

This year, Bertha and Dolly were reported to reach hurricane strength with winds in excess of 74 mph (119 kph) before fading over the open Atlantic . On Tuesday, tropical storm Edouard faded into the northern section of the Texas coast.

At Colorado State University , its hurricane research team also raised its Atlantic forecast for this year saying it expected 17 tropical storms expected to form, and nine of them to strengthen into hurricanes.

An average Atlantic hurricane season, says the NOAA, brings 11 tropical storms with six hurricanes, including two major hurricanes. The hurricane season officially started on June 1 and typically peaks between late August and mid-October.

NOAA, university and other forecast groups have called for active seasons during the past few years only to have little storm development. Only one minor storm reached the during the 2007 season and it escaped any impact in 2006.

Source: Reuters


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