Scientists still predict busy hurricane season

? The 2006 hurricane season – so far quiet – has fallen far behind last year’s record for tropical storm activity, but scientists on Tuesday issued a prediction that this year will nonetheless be above average, with seven to nine hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin.

In the kind of season that is anticipated, an average of two or three hurricanes make landfall in the U.S., scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The prediction, while threatening, slightly downgrades the predicted hurricane activity from the seasonal outlook the agency issued in May, in which eight to 10 hurricanes were foreseen.

Some scientists have suggested that the recent numbers and intensity of hurricanes may be an outcome of global warming. But Gerry Bell, lead meteorologist at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said that “the work done so far doesn’t allow us” to determine how much of the storm activity is the result of global warming.