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The annual Atlantic hurricane season began Thursday, with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters predicting a 45 percent chance of above-average hurricane activity, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 20 percent chance of a below-average season. According to an Administration blog post, forecasters "predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms" this season. Of those, five to nine could become hurricanes, two to four of them major hurricanes. "An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes," according to the post.