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MIAMI -- There've been two Atlantic hurricanes so far this season. Even so, forecasters say it's even more likely to be a below-normal season.

They now predict a 70 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a five percent chance of an above-normal season. The probabilities in the May outlook were 50 percent, 40 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

'We are more confident that a below-normal season will occur because atmospheric and oceanic conditions that suppress cyclone formation have developed and will persist through the season,' said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

'Nonetheless, tropical storms and hurricanes can strike the U.S. during below-normal seasons, as we have already seen this year when Arthur made landfall in North Carolina as a category-2 hurricane,' he added.

PREDICTIONS:
August 7: 7to 12 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which 0 to 2 could become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, 5; winds of at least 111 mph).

May 22:predicted 8 to 13 named storms, 3 to 6 hurricanes and 1 to 2 major hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane region comprises the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and runs from June 1 through November 30.

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