Hurricane season starts today

By Kelly Bryant - bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - June 1 marks the official beginning of hurricane season in the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting a very active season, saying that there is an 85 percent chance of this year being considered "above normal" in tropical activity.

Here's the forecast from NOAA:

  • 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
  • 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared."

Preparation is always key in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm headed in the direction of the Gulf. There are a few key things a person should always note in preparing for a storm. The biggest hazards to note are storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. For these hazards, the National Hurricane Center urges families to always have a plan in place before the threat of a storm.

Storm surge is water pushed toward shore from the storm itself. This water, added to the normal high tide in that region, can be very dangerous when approaching the shore line. It can even increase the mean water level 15 feet or more. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides. The best way to stay safe in avoiding storm surge damage is to inform yourself--use the SLOSH model to figure out if your area might need to be evacuated.

High winds can also be a factor in damage to buildings and creating debris. The best way to avoid wind damage in the threat of a tropical storm or hurricane is to reinforce windows and doors, and be sure buildings are up to code in the event of very strong winds.  Assess property/landscaping to ensure that landscaping and trees do not become a wind hazard. Tornadoes are also something to watch out for—keeping a battery powered weather radio will keep you up to date on watches and warnings in that event.

Inland flooding is one of the deadliest events when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches, and it often isn't associated with the hurricane itself. Weaker storms on the outer bands that can potentially stall or move slowly over an area can cause flooding to occur in any given area. Always consider flood insurance—flooding is usually NOT COVERED in most homeowner's insurance policies, so it's a good idea if you live in a low lying area or potential flood zone.

Always have a plan. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Arm yourself with information, stock up on food, water, and necessary medicine for your family and pets, have a weather radio and flashlights, and keep stock of batteries to power them. And always stay informed of road closures/evacuation routes issued by local media.

This hurricane season is estimated to be very active, so be prepared for anything to happen.

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