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Latest hurricane forecasts still call for active season

Latest hurricane forecasts still call for active season

FORT COLLINS, Colo., and WASHINGTON—Two forecasting teams have updated their 2011 hurricane projections, with both still calling for an active season.

The Atlantic basin should be prepared for a “very active” hurricane season this year, according to an updated forecast by the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University.

The team left its June 1 forecast unchanged, calling for 16 named storms to form during the season, which runs through Nov. 30. Nine of those storms are expected to grow to hurricane strength, with five becoming major hurricanes, according to the forecast.

As of July 31, four named storms had formed, and a fifth—Tropical Storm Emily—began moving west across the Caribbean Sea last week before weakening after pounding Haiti.

Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a slightly more active Atlantic hurricane season than previously expected, with a high probability of up to 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes.

“Storms through October will form more frequently and become more intense than we've seen so far this season,” NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said.

NOAA in May forecast up to 18 named storms. It projected six to 10 could become hurricanes, and in its recent forecast said seven to 10 have a high probability of becoming hurricanes. The latest forecast says three to five of the storms will likely become major hurricanes, slightly fewer than the May prediction of three to six.

Market sources said in June that the property insurance and reinsurance market will likely weather the season well unless extremely destructive hurricanes make landfall in heavily populated areas, or insured losses from several storms reach $20 billion to $30 billion. Even so, they note, the market has a thinner-than-normal cushion to protect against hurricane losses after the string of natural catastrophes this year.

and Michael Bradford