Four to six major hurricanes predicted for 2006

MIAMI (AP) - The National Hurricane Center predicts that there will be four to six major hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico this season.

There will be up to 16 named storms, the center predicts, which would be significantly less than last year's record 27.

Last year officials predicted 12 to 15 tropical storms, seven tonine of them becoming hurricanes, and three to five of those hurricanes being major, with winds of at least 111 miles-per-hour.

But the season was much busier. In fact, it was the busiest Atlantic Hurricane season since record keeping began in 1851. Last season there were 15 hurricanes, seven of which were Category three or higher.

The Atlantic seasons were relatively mild from the 1970s through 1994. Since then, all but two years have been above normal. Experts say the world is in the midst of a 20-year-cycle that will continue to bring strong storms.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)