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The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season will be above average with nine hurricanes, five of them major, with a more than 70 percent chance that at least one of them will hit the U.S. coastline, Colorado State University forecasters predicted Wednesday.

Slightly reducing an early December forecast, the CSU team forecast an active June 1-Nov. 30 season, predicting 16 named storms.

Of these, nine were expected to turn into hurricanes, with five developing into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir/Simpson scale.

The 2010 season spawned 19 named storms, tying for the third most active season with 1897 and 1995, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Of those storms, 12 became hurricanes, tying the second highest season of 1969. There were five major hurricanes in 2010.

The CSU team predicted a “72 percent chance that at least one major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline in 2011,” adding that the long-term average probability of this was 52 percent.

“We expect that anomalously warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures, combined with neutral tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, will contribute to an active season,” Phil Klotzbach of the CSU Tropical Meteorology Project stated,

“We have reduced our forecast slightly from early December due to a combination of recent ocean warming in the eastern and central tropical Pacific and recent cooling in the tropical Atlantic,” he pointed out.

(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by John Picinich)

Posted 12:40 PM

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