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Forecaster updates his hurricane outlook

AccuWeather.com is now predicting 18 to 21 named storms for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, some of which will impact the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

There have been no named storms so far this season, which began June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

AccuWeather.com chief hurricane meteorologist Joe Bastardi increased his original forecast of 16 to 18 storms to 18 to 21, with six hurricanes, two or three of which will have major landfalls.

Only five years in the 160 years of records have had 18 or more storms in a season.

"The hurricane season should have several hits on the U.S. coast from July through September, mainly in the Southeast and Gulf," Bastardi predicted.

Bastardi suggests that, based on years with a hurricane forecast similar to 2010, at least two hurricanes and one tropical storm will move through the area of the Gulf oil spill by the end of the tropical season.

As many as three other tropical systems have the potential to track close enough to the spill to impact cleanup and other operations, as well as other oil rigs in the Gulf.

Bastardi predicts the time period between Aug. 15 and Oct. 15 will be most active.

"Not only will that period be more active than normal, but the run-up to it and the time after it," said Bastardi.

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