FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The federal government issued a pessimistic new forecast for hurricane season Thursday, increasing its prediction for the number of expected storms.
The forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for:
-- 19 to 25 named storms, which means tropical storms and hurricanes. The preseason forecast had called for 13 to 19.
-- Seven to 11 to hurricanes, up from six to 10 in the previous forecast.
-- Three to six major hurricanes with wind speeds of at least 111 mph, as previously forecast.
"This year, we expect more, stronger, and longer-lived storms than average," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
An average season produces 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, of which three are major. This season has already produced two hurricanes and is on track to become one of the most active in recorded history, an unwelcome development at a time of unprecedented health and economic challenges.
"We've never forecast up to 25 named storms," Bell said in a telephone news conference Thursday morning. "So this is the first time."
But conditions are not more conducive to hurricanes than they turned out to be in 2005, the record-setting season that produced 28 named storms, including Hurricane Wilma and Hurricane Katrina, Bell said.
"2005 was more conducive to more hurricanes than what we're seeing now," Bell said. "That's why we're not predicting a record hurricane season at this time."