Forecasters Scale Back ’06 Storm Predictions

From Times Wire Reports

The 2006 Atlantic hurricane season should be slightly less active than originally predicted, federal forecasters said Tuesday.

They now expect 12 to 15 named storms and seven to nine hurricanes, the National Hurricane Center and other National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agencies said. Three or four could be major hurricanes with sustained winds of at least 111 mph, forecasters said.

Officials revised their forecast because conditions over the Pacific Ocean had been wetter than predicted and had forced slightly stronger upper-level winds over the Caribbean. Those winds can rip apart storms and stop them from becoming hurricanes.