(Reuters) – U.S. forecasters expect the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season beginning June 1 to be near average in the number and intensity of storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said on Thursday.

The forecasters estimate between two and four major hurricanes packing winds of at least 111 miles (179 km) per hour could develop during the 2019 season.

The NOAA forecast also said about half of the nine to 15 named storms will be hurricane strength, packing winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph).

An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30, and produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, three of them major.

Reporting 2018 Collin Eaton in Houston; Editing 2018 Jeffrey Benkoe and Tom Brown

Heard from feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/environment/~3/z61ZewL2e-A/u-s-forecasters-predict-two-four-major-hurricanes-in-2019-atlantic-storm-season-idUSKCN1ST213

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