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NOAA sees chance of even more hurricanes

In the August update to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center increased the likelihood of an above-normal hurricane season and raised the total number of named storms and hurricanes that may form.

NOAA now projects an 85 percent probability of an above-normal season — up from 65 percent in May. The updated outlook includes a 67 percent chance of 14 to 18 named storms, of which seven to 10 are expected to become hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher.

These ranges encompass the entire season, which ends Nov. 30, and include the five storms that have formed thus far.

In May, the outlook called for 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes. An average Atlantic hurricane season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

“Leading indicators for an above-normal season during 2008 include the continuing multi-decadal signal — atmospheric and oceanic conditions that have spawned increased hurricane activity since 1995 — and the lingering effects of La Niña,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Another indicator favoring an above-normal hurricane season is a very active July, the third most active since 1886.

Five named storms have formed already this season. Tropical Storm Arthur affected the Yucatan Peninsula in late-May and early June. Hurricane Bertha was the longest-lived July storm (July 3-20) on record. Tropical Storm Cristobal skirted the North Carolina coastline.

Dolly made landfall July 25 as a Category 2 hurricane at South Padre Island, Texas. On Aug. 5, Tropical Storm Edouard struck the upper Texas coast.

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