Government forecasters expect the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season to be near normal or above normal.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials in Tampa say that means there is a 60 to 70 percent chance of 12 to 16 named storms, six to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes forming.

But they stress coastal residents should always be prepared. They don't predict whether, where or when any of these storms may hit land.

Click here for the NOAA 2008 Hurricane Outlook.

An average season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes for which two reach major status.

Forecasters and emergency responders fear that coastal residents will be apathetic this year after the United States escaped the past two storm seasons virtually unscathed.