MIAMI, May 24 (UPI) -- The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday predicted a near-normal 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.
For the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said there's a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher).
Of those hurricanes, one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5), a NOAA release said Thursday.
"NOAA's outlook predicts a less active season compared to recent years," NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said. "But regardless of the outlook, it's vital for anyone living or vacationing in hurricane-prone locations to be prepared."
More accurate forecasts about a storm's intensity at landfall and extending the forecast period beyond five days will help America become a more prepared national, she said.
"We're stepping up to meet this challenge through our Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which has already demonstrated exciting early progress toward improving storm intensity forecasts," Lubchenco said.