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U.S. News

Factbox: Forecasts for 2010 Atlantic hurricane season

(Reuters) - The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season will be even more active than feared, according to leading U.S. forecasters who predict 10 hurricanes, five of them major, with a 76 percent likelihood that a major hurricane would hit the U.S. coastline.

The outlook released on Wednesday by the Colorado State University team follows predictions by U.S. government scientists for an intense, above average hurricane season, that could disrupt U.S. Gulf oil, gas and refinery operations.

The leading Colorado State University storm research team founded by hurricane forecast pioneer William Gray said the six-month season beginning on June 1 would likely see 18 named tropical storms.

Of these, the team saw 10 becoming hurricanes, including five major Category 3 or higher hurricanes with winds above 110 miles per hour (177 km per hour).

The CSU scientists increased their forecast from an April 7 prediction of 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

In addition to the risk that major hurricanes can pose to about one-quarter of U.S. oil production and more than a tenth of natural gas output offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, this year’s storms threaten to complicate efforts to address the environmental disaster of BP Plc’s gushing oil well.

All the major forecasters have predicted the season will be much more active than last season, which with just nine tropical storms was one of the quietest in a decade.

This year the June 1 to November 30 period looks set to be stormier, threatening disruption to oil and gas installations and potentially making the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico worse.

The following are the latest predictions for 2010:

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Tropical Storms Hurricanes Major Hurricanes

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NOAA 14-23 8-14 3-7

CSU 18 10 5

WSI 18 10 5 AccuWeather 16-18 5 2-3

TSR 16 8 4

WRC 8 5 -- Planalytics NA NA NA UK Met NA NA NA

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CSU (Colorado State University team led by William Gray and Philip Klotzbach) third forecast issued on June 2. New report due out on August 4.

WSI (Andover, Mass.) forecast issued May 26.

AccuWeather forecast issued March 10.

Tropical Storm Risk (London) forecast issued April 9.

Weather Research Center (Houston) forecast issued April 12.

The UK Met Office will issue its forecast in June.

Compiled by the World Desk, Americas; editing by Pascal Fletcher and Mohammad Zargham

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