U.S. hurricane forecasters say they expect above-average activity this year, including four major hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. VOA's Brian Wagner has this report from Miami.

Forecasters from Colorado State University say they are raising their initial hurricane prediction for the storm season that runs from June 1 to November 30. William Gray and Phil Klotzbach say they expect 15 tropical storms in the Atlantic basin, and that four of those could develop into severe hurricanes.

Speaking at a hurricane conference in the Bahamas, Klotzbach said the more severe hurricanes are rare, but can do serious damage.

"Basically these are the storms that ... do about 80 to 85 percent of all tropical cyclone-related damage....," he said.

He said the current year will not be as active as other recent storm seasons.

"But it only takes one storm making landfall in your particular town to make it an active hurricane season for you," he said.

Researchers say weather conditions this year, such as warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and relatively weak trade winds, favor the development of storms.

They also say there is a 69 percent chance of a hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline this season.

The last time a hurricane hit the United States was in 2005 when a series of storms shut down oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and caused billions of dollars in damage along the Gulf Coast.

Last year, two category five hurricanes - the most severe category - developed in the Gulf region. They made landfall on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and in Nicaragua.