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As the summer vacation season nears, travelers are scrambling to lock in their travel package and cruise deals. But be warned: Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico cruises, as well as vacation destinations along U.S. coastlines, may not be the most viable option this season, according to meteorologists at the Accuweather.com Hurricane Center (watch the video here).

This year’s forecast projects some 15 tropical storms, among which eight are anticipated to become hurricanes and three more should become major hurricanes. A major hurricane signifies a category three or higher, meaning that winds fluctuate between 111 and 130 miles per hour and the storm surge averages 9 to 12 feet (along the lines of 2004’s Hurricane Jeanne in Florida or 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi). Meteorologists formulate these prediction estimates based on several factors, like analyzing weather patterns from throughout the year to previous years, looking at high-pressure areas of the Atlantic, and considering the influence of La Niña. The hurricane season officially starts June 1 and ends November 30 (though these are rough timeframes).

In 2010, the United States had a whopping 19 named tropical storms, nearly double the seasonal average; however, these 2010 storms did not impact the U.S. coastline as much as Accuweather.com meteorologists are expecting the forthcoming 2011 storms will. Meteorologists expect that the coasts of Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, and the southern Virginia will take the hardest hits.

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