NC professor: '09 storm season will be less active

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina researcher says the 2009 hurricane season for the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will be about average and less active than last year.

North Carolina State University professor Lian Xie (LEE-on sh-eer) said Thursday that work by his team shows "a slightly less active season than last year's."

Xie said there should be 11 to 14 named storms during the 2009 hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

Six to eight storms may become hurricanes. His team estimated a 45 percent chance of a hurricane hitting the coast of the southeastern U.S., and a 40 percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast.

Xie's prediction is in line with forecasters at Colorado State University.

They estimated 12 named storms would develop, including six hurricanes, two of them major.

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