NOAA upgrades hurricane forecast

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Even as Tropical Storm Emily dissipated Thursday, NOAA issued its updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, raising the number of named storms it expects from the preseason outlook it issued in May.

Forecasters also increased their confidence that there will be an active Atlantic hurricane season this year.

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

Key climate factors predicted in May continue to support an active season. These include the tropical multidecadal signal, which since 1995 has brought favorable ocean and atmospheric conditions, leading to more active seasons; exceptionally warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures (the third-warmest on record); and the possible redevelopment of La Niña.

Based on these conditions and on climate model forecasts, confidence for an above-normal season has increased from 65 percent in May to 85 percent. Also, the expected number of named storms has increased from 12 to 18 in May to 14 to 19, and the expected number of hurricanes has increased from six to 10 in May to seven to 10.

The Atlantic basin already has produced five tropical storms this season: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don and Emily. The National Hurricane Center said this morning that Emily has a 60 percent chance of reforming into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Ike in 2008.

Click here for the full report.

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