U.S. meteorologists are predicting an extremely active hurricane season this year with up to seven major storms forming in the Atlantic Ocean.
In its annual hurricane outlook issued Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted there will be between 14 and 23 named storms this hurricane season.
NOAA meteorologists say up to 14 of these storms could become hurricanes with winds of at least 119 kilometers per hour.
NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said this hurricane season could be one of the more active on record. She said the greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall, and she urged everyone to be prepared.
This year's storms threaten to complicate efforts to combat the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
At a news conference in Washington Thursday, NOAA officials said it is highly unlikely any oil in the Gulf would become entrained in a hurricane and moved. However, the officials said a hurricane's storm surge could push oil ashore.
The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.