FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season should have above-average activity, a top hurricane researcher said Friday.
Colorado State forecaster William Gray predicted 14 named storms next year, including three major hurricanes and four other hurricanes.
Gray and fellow researcher Philip Klotzbach said fewer hurricanes are likely to make landfall compared to last year, which had the busiest and most destructive hurricane season on record.
It had 28 named storms, including 15 hurricanes, four of which hit the U.S. The worst of those was Katrina, which leveled parts of the Gulf Coast.
This year's season had nine named storms and five hurricanes, two of them major. That was considered a ``near normal'' season but fell short of predictions by Gray and government scientists.
No hurricanes hit the U.S. Atlantic coast in 2006 _ only the 11th time that has occurred since 1945.
Gray's team said a late-developing El Nino contributed to the calmer 2006 season but that those conditions are likely to dissipate before the next June-to-November season.
``Despite a fairly inactive 2006 hurricane season, we believe that the Atlantic basin is in an active hurricane cycle,'' Gray said. The active cycle is expected to continue for another decade or two, he said.