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Higher chance of Gulf Coast hurricane in '07

Breaking National News
HOUSTON-Texas (Reuters) - There is an above-average chance that a major hurricane will hit the U.S. Gulf Coast this year, marking a possible return to the destructive seasons of 2004 and 2005, leading storm forecasters predicted on Tuesday.

Hurricanes in 2005 devastated New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast, and knocked out a swath of the country's offshore oil platforms and coastal refineries, pushing oil prices to then-record highs. In 2004, four strong hurricanes struck Florida, the country's biggest citrus producer.

AccuWeather and Colorado State University said Tuesday at a storm conference in Houston the chance that a storm will swing over the energy-rich Gulf of Mexico and into the Gulf Coast states again this year is higher than normal.

The highest area of risk has swung southwest from the Atlantic to Florida and the eastern and central Gulf Coast regions," he said.

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