Weather forecasters predict 6 to 9 hurricanes this year

Top federal weather forecasters on Thursday predicted that this year's Atlantic hurricane season will produce 12 to 16 named storms, of which six to nine will become hurricanes, five of which could be intensely powerful. An average season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes, two of which reach major status.

Gerry Bell, the lead Atlantic hurricane forecaster for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, warned that the outlook should serve only as a general guide and does not indicate when and where a hurricane might strike.

The hurricane season begins June 1. Last year, there were 15 named storms and six hurricanes, two of which were major. The government predicted 13 to 17 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes.

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