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The 2006 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, is officially here. This year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center predicts an 80 percent chance of an above-normal storm season--with eight to 10 hurricanes and four to six major storms. The 2005 season produced a record 15 hurricanes and seven major storms.
Most of the conditions that contribute to the formation of hurricanes are menacing: considerably warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures, lower wind shear, reduced sea level pressure, and an active African easterly jet stream.
Hurricanes can only develop when sea temperatures are above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. This Aug. 28, 2006, image shows the temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico that were above 82 degrees Fahrenheit (orange-red) when Hurricane Katrina struck. The path of Katrina and its storm severity levels are indicated in black. The other lines indicate the tracks of other 2006 hurricanes.