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NOAA Forecasts 9 To 14 Tropical Storms This Season

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government has issued its forecast for the upcoming hurricane season, along with a warning that Americans in hurricane-prone areas prepare themselves.

Forecasters predict nine to 14 named tropical storms this year. The named storms are expected to include 4 to 7 hurricanes of which 1 to 3 are likely to be major storms - a near normal year.

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read says now is the time for preparedness - for people to have a plan and follow it. Regardless of the total number of storms, forecasters point out that it only takes one to make it a very bad season.

Hurricane season officially starts June 1. Last year there were 16 named storms, of which 8 grew into hurricanes and 5 were major. About 1,000 people lost their lives, mostly in flash flooding in the Caribbean.

NOAA's forecast comes just days after the Department of Homeland Security urged Americans to be prepared for hurricane season.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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