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Researchers predict near-normal Atlantic hurricane season

North Carolina State University researchers say there's a that 70 percent chance that at least one hurricane will make landfall along the Gulf Coast this year.

The researchers say that 11 to 14 named storms are likely in the Atlantic basin, including the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Of those, six to eight may become hurricanes, the researchers said.

The chance that one of the hurricanes will make landfall along the southeastern U.S. coast is 45 percent, according to the researchers, led by Lian Xie, a professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences.

Xie's predictions would indicate a near-normal season.

"In fact, 2009's numbers are slightly lower than last year's prediction of 13 to 15 named storms," Xie said.

Along the Gulf Coast, the researchers say that three to five named storms may form, with one to three becoming hurricanes. They expect two to four named storms to make landfall.

NCSU today issued a news release about the predictions.

The predictions are in line with numbers from the past 20 years, though slightly above the average of the past 50 years.

Xie and collaborators — Montserrat Fuentes, a professor of statistics, and graduate student Danny Modlin — evaluated data from the past 100 years and other variables, including weather patterns and sea surface temperatures.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

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