The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration boosted its predictions for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, based on high early-season activity.

This season could produce between 14 to 18 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, with three to six being intense with winds of more than 110 mph, said the NOAA.

In May, the NOAA forecasted 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes, with two to five being intense.

Meteorologists cited warm sea-surface temperatures in the tropics and favorable wind patterns, which are prime conditions for storm formation, for higher-than-usual hurricane activity in the summer.

"July was busier than normal, with hurricanes Bertha and Dolly and Tropical storm Cristobal. Early season activity means we still expect considerable activity for the rest of the season," said Gerry Bell, NOAA forecaster.

The 2008 hurricane season so far has seen five named storms, with the latest being Tropical Storm Edouard, which hit land near Galveston, Texas, on Aug. 5.


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