The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season could be "extremely active" and spawn 13 to 20 tropical storms, seven to 11 of which are expected to become hurricanes, the U.S. government's top climate agency predicted on Thursday.
Three to six of the hurricanes could become major at Category 3 or above, with winds of more than 110 mph, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its annual forecast.
"For the six-month hurricane season which will start June 1, NOAA predicts an above-normal and possibly an extremely active hurricane season," said Kathryn Sullivan, the acting administrator of the agency.
Speaking at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, she said the hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico threatened "quite a lot of activity" because of a combination of several climate factors, including warmer-than-average temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean.
The average Atlantic season brings 12 tropical storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
"This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
"These conditions include weaker wind shear, warmer Atlantic waters and conducive wind patterns coming from Africa," he said.
_ By The Associated Press