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MIAMI (AP) — U.S. forecasters say the Atlantic hurricane season may be less active than they previously predicted.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's updated outlook predicts nine to 13 named storms, including four to seven hurricanes. Up to two hurricanes could be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph).
Four storms already have developed this year, including two hurricanes in July.
Gerry Bell of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said Thursday that oceanic and atmospheric conditions have become "much more inhospitable to hurricane formation and intensification."
Bell said the El Nino phenomenon also may develop as the six-month season peaks. That natural warming in the Pacific Ocean tends to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity.
He warned coastal residents the forecast doesn't predict where any storms could make landfall, which is determined by short-term weather patterns.