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U.S. agency forecasts near-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year

WASHINGTON, May 25 — Conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Thursday.

For the entire six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says there's a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which, four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and in turn one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher).

Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

"NOAA's outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years," NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a statement.

"But regardless of the outlook, it's vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared. We have a stark reminder this year with the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew."

Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992, was the first storm in a late-starting season that produced only six named storms. (PNA/Xinhua) scs/LOR/ebp

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