MIAMI ( – With just weeks to go until the official start of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its update prediction Thursday and it looks like it could be a very busy this season.

NOAA said the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be an above normal season. NOAA called for 12-18 named storms, of which, 6-10 could become hurricanes, with a 3-6 of those becoming major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.

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“The United States was fortunate last year. Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under-secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “However we can’t count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook.”

NOAA forecasters said that warmer than average water temperatures across the tropical Atlantic and La Niña conditions across the equatorial eastern Pacific were major contributing factors to the forecast for an above normal season.

Weather forecasters at Colorado State University have already predicted an above-average hurricane season with 16 named storms. They expect nine of those storms to strengthen into hurricanes, five of them major.

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Last year’s hurricane season was one of the busiest on record with 19 named storms, including 12 hurricanes. But no major hurricane has made a U.S. landfall in the last five years.

NOAA’s May forecast is usually updated in August. The August forecast is historically more accurate.

Luckily, NOAA said that even though the storm forecast is for an above normal season, forecasters with NOAA don’t believe that the 2011 season will be quite as busy as last year’s season.

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The six-month Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.