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According to William Gray, the meteorological equivalent of Dr. Doom, the outlook for the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season is perilous–as many as 17 named storms, five hurricanes rated Category 3, 4 or 5 with wind speeds of 111 miles per hour or greater, and a 74% chance that one will hit the U.S. coast, when the normal odds have been closer to 50% over the past century. But not even predictions by Gray, the head of the Tropical Meteorological Project at Colorado State University, could elicit much more than a collective shrug out of the insurance industry that, only two years before, had to absorb $62 billion in losses from a record season that devastated large sections of the southeastern U.S. “Insurers should be able to weather it, no pun intended,” says Don Bailey, CEO of broker Willis North America in New York.

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