Forecasters predict busy Atlantic hurricane season

4:31 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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(NBC NEWS) -- Federal forecasters say 2013 will see another busy Atlantic hurricane season.

"For the six month hurricane season, which will start June 1st, NOAA predicts an above normal and possibly an extremely active hurricane season," NOAA Acting Director Kathryn Sullivan reported Thursday.

They predict up to 20 named storms, with as many as six becoming major hurricanes.

Conditions are ripe, they say, with warmer sea surface temperatures and virtually no El Nino in the Pacific.

NOAA's hurricane forecast comes on the heels of forecasting this week's tornados in Oklahoma that many say saved lives.

Still, at a Congressional hearing in Washington Thursday Republicans said the agency could do even better forecasting if it would stop focusing so much on climate change.

"In 2012, NOAA barely spent one-third of the resources on weather research as it did on climate research," pointed out Utah's Representative Chris Stewart.

The committee is trying to figure out why the U.S. has fallen behind hurricane forecasters elsewhere, like the ones in Europe who more accurately projected the path of Superstorm Sandy.

NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan defended the agency, using Oklahoma again, where there was a warning of 16 minutes before the tornado hit.

"In 1990, just for comparison, the average warning time was just five minutes," she pointed out. "We've come a long way in a short time."

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