FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Forecasters from Colorado State University predict that the Atlantic basin of the United States will likely experience another very active hurricane season in 2006, but most likely with fewer landfalling intense hurricanes than in 2005, which was the costliest, most destructive hurricane season ever.

The team's forecast for the 2006 hurricane season anticipates 17 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30. Nine of the 17 storms are predicted to become hurricanes, and of those nine, five are expected to develop into intense or major hurricanes (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

The 2005 season witnessed 27 named storms, 15 hurricanes, and seven intense hurricanes. Long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes, and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.

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"We have maintained our forecast from our early December prediction as the Atlantic Ocean remains anomalously warm and tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures have continued to cool," said Phil Klotzbach of the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team. "We expect either neutral or weak La Niña conditions to be present during the upcoming hurricane season."

The forecast team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2006 will be 195 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2005 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was about 275 percent of the average season.

"Even though we expect to see the current active period of Atlantic major hurricane activity to continue for another 15-20 years, it is statistically unlikely that the coming 2006-2007 hurricane seasons, or the seasons that follow, will have the number of major hurricane U.S. landfall events as we have seen in 2004-2005," said Colorado State Professor William Gray.

Publication date: 05/08/2006