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Predictions down, but don#039;t relax yet

The news from Denver was no doubt well-received all along the Gulf Coast last week.

Colorado State researches have lowered their 2006 for Atlantic hurricanes for the second time and are now predicting a sligthly below-average season with five hurricanes instead of seven.

The forecast was released as Tropical Storm Ernesto was downgraded to a rain storm along the East Coast. Now, forecasters say, two of this season’s Atlanta hurricanes will be intense. Last spring, the same team called for 17 named storms to form in the Atlantic between June and November.

The National Hurricane Center has also lowered its Atlantic storms forecast since spring.

In May, it predicted 13 to 16 named storms and eight to 10 hurricanes, with as many as six major ones. In early August, the hurricane center revised that to between 12 and 15 named storms and seven to nine hurricanes.

As of Friday, five named storms had formed, including Ernesto.

The lowered predictions are good news for storm-weary residents of our region and all residents who are paying higher insurance premiums after two very active seasons.

But we’ve got a while before November. And remember Opal? She visited us in October.