The , with as many as 23 named tropical storms.
An estimated eight to 14 storms could strengthen into hurricanes. Of those storms, three to seven could become major hurricanes.
"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said last week. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared."
While scientists seem to agree that the sprawling oil slick in the Gulf isn't likely to affect the formation of a storm, the real worry is that a hurricane might turn the millions of gallons of floating crude into a crashing black surf. The leak began when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded six weeks ago. BP PLC operated the rig that was owned by Transocean Ltd.
Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf
The first named storm of this Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30, will be called Alex.
No hurricanes hit the United States last year. Hurricane Ida hit Nicaragua as a Category 1 storm last November.