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Published May 20, 2011

The 2011 hurricane season is expected to be more active than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

Forecasters predicted 12 to 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin, with six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes, with winds of 111 mph or more.

They attributed the busy season to an era of heightened Atlantic hurricane activity, warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures and La Nina conditions.

No hurricanes struck the United States during last year's unusually busy season, but it is unlikely to be as fortunate this year, said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

"We cannot count on having the same luck this year," she said.

Weather forecasters at Colorado State University have made similar predictions for this season: 16 named storms, with nine of those strengthening into hurricanes, five of them major.

Last season was the third-busiest in 160 years, with 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes.

But none hit the United States. Florida hasn't been hit by a hurricane in five years. And the United States hasn't been hit by a major hurricane in as many years. The U.S. has never gone six years without being hit by a major hurricane.

Tampa Bay has not been hit by a hurricane in 90 years.

The NOAA prediction for the 2010 season was accurate. Forecasters predicted 14 to 20 named storms, eight to 12 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.