Now is the time to prepare for Gulf hurricanes

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Jones County's Emergency Management Director Don McKinnon says NOAA is predicting 14 to 23 storms this hurricane season.

"Eight to 14 of those are going to be named storms and anywhere from five to six of those can be category three or greater storms," said McKinnon.

According to McKinnon, "The probability of a storm getting into the Gulf of Mexico is about 44 percent this year, and normally it's about 30 percent."

WDAM-TV weather forecaster, Rex Thompson, said one reason for the higher storm probability is a weather pattern creating warmer water.

"When you have very low wind sheer, you have lots of extra warm water in the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean, and that is why we think it's really going to be an active season," said Thompson.

Thompson said it has already been an above-normal storm season with the arrival of Hurricane Alex earlier this summer. That means preparing for severe weather is extremely important regardless of storm prediction figures.

"In 1965, only had only seven named storms that year, and we had Betsy, the first billion-dollar hurricane. Another example, 1992 we had Hurricane Andrew, only seven named storms that year. Andrew was the costliest in history until Katrina. So it's not the number of storms, it's the one that affects you," said Thompson.

That is why officials advise residents stock up on supplies like extra cash, batteries, non-perishable food, child care items and most importantly water.

Forecasters say for South Mississippi, the months of August and September are anticipated to be the busiest months for tropical weather.

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