Gray and his research team, who study oceanic and atmospheric conditions to predict future patterns, foresee 17 tropical storms and nine hurricanes developing in the Atlantic basin during the six-month 2006 season, which begins June 1.
Last December, Gray's team accurately forecast that 2005 would be an above-average season with 11 named storms and six hurricanes, three of them major ones. Instead, 2005 proved to be the most active and destructive hurricane season on record, spawning a record 26 tropical storms and 14 hurricanes.
As Gray released his forecast, a remnant of this year's season -- Hurricane Epsilon -- was still spinning with 75 mph winds Wednesday, 875 miles southwest of the Azores, posing no threat to land, national hurricane officials in Miami said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration waits until May to issue its seasonal outlook.
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