Source AP ©

Tropical forecaster lowers 2007 estimate slightly, predicts 8 hurricanes, 4 of them intense

U.S. hurricane researcher William Gray released a slightly lowered forecast Friday calling for 15 named storms in the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, with eight becoming hurricanes and four becoming intense.

On May 31, at the outset of hurricane season, Gray had called for 17 named storms and nine hurricanes, five of them intense.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, averages 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year.

There were 10 named Atlantic storms last year and five hurricanes, two of them major. None of the hurricanes hit the U.S. Atlantic coast.

The devastating 2005 season set a record with 28 named storms, 15 of them hurricanes. Four hurricanes hit the U.S., including Katrina, which devastated parts of the Gulf Coast.

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