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Hurricane Season Could Be Busy

Folks living along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts would be wise to batten down the hatches this summer and fall.

Weather forecasters are looking for this to be a busier-than-average hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting there will be between 11 and 15 tropical storms this year, with six to nine of them becoming hurricanes.

Deputy administrator James Mahoney says two to four of those will become major hurricanes, classified at intensity three or higher.

Mahoney says the typical season produces ten tropical storms, with six reaching hurricane force.

As far as Pacific storms are concerned, forecasters expect two to three tropical cyclones in the central Pacific, slightly below the long-term average.

The NOAA announcement came at the start of National Hurricane Awarness Week, which President Bush declared in an effort to encourage people in hurricane-prone areas to "learn more about how to protect themselves against the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms."

In 2002, twelve storms were named and four became hurricanes: Gustav, Isidore, Kyle and Lili.

"In the past two years alone, nine tropical storms and one hurricane hit the United States causing 54 deaths and $6.3 billion in direct economic damage. The toll can be even higher when people are not prepared," Mahoney said.