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Tropics cooking at record pace

But forecasters say the numbers are not significant

MIAMI (UPI) | August 23, 2011

The number of named storms in the Atlantic this year has already outpaced last year's, which had the third-highest-ever total, forecasters say.

Hurricane Irene, which formed last week and is expected to hit the eastern U.S. by this weekend, was this year's ninth named storm while 2010 only had four at this point in the season.

But the numbers aren't that significant, weather experts said.

"People should not get too hung up on the where and when and how," National Hurricane Center senior specialist Jack Beven said.

Local officials said residents should remain prepared.

"This continues to underscore the message that we always preach," Palm Beach County Emergency Manager Bill Johnson said. "Have a plan, make a kit and be informed. That way you're always ready for the slowest season and the busiest season."

Florida is in its sixth year without a hurricane landfall as high-pressure systems have kept most storms off shore.

But, Beven said, "any hurricane season, we can find some weather pattern that can last a few days that can let any hurricane come to the United States."

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