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Predicting 2011 hurricane season could be tough

June 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The hurricane season officially began Wednesday, and it apparently won't be an easy one for forecasters.

This year, both the El Nino and La Nina effects are relatively quiet, making forecasting harder. Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski of AccuWeather.com says a strong warming or cooling trend makes prediction "much easier."

The last time temperatures were neutral was 2005, when hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed into the Gulf Coast.

This year, the National Hurricane Center is expecting the storm season to be busier than usual: up to 18 named tropical storms, with three to six of them major hurricanes.

Last year was the third-most active season on record, with 19 named storms, 12 of which became hurricanes. But only one gave the U.S. any problems.