Hurricane season is coming, prepare

Published 12:03 am Thursday, May 14, 2015

Shown is a aerial photo of Hurriane Katrina. | File photo

Shown is a aerial photo of Hurriane Katrina. | File photo

Hurricane season is just around the corner and forecasts predict a below normal Atlantic hurricane season, despite a system already making landfall on the Atlantic coast.

However, residents need to make sure they prepare now.

A major hurricane hasn’t made landfall in the U.S. since 2005, when hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma all struck the coast.

This week, NASA officials announced the nine-year major hurricane drought is a record for the longest period without a major hurricane since consistent records were kept beginning in 1850.

NASA researchers said that the 2015 hurricane season has a 39 percent chance of ending the historic period without major hurricanes.

AccuWeather forecasters said there have only been four below-normal seasons total in the past 20 years.

With eight named tropical storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane predicted for the Atlantic Basin, AccuWeather announced Wednesday it predicts that two or three of those systems will make landfall.

It’s prediction:

• Eight tropical storms;

• Four hurricanes;

• One major hurricane; and

• Two to three landfalls

“Last year’s hurricane numbers were a little bit higher than what we’re forecasting right now, but the environmental conditional are somewhat similar to last year,” AccuWeather Expert Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. “Last year’s upper-level winds actually looked like an El Nino-type pattern, so what we go last year will be pretty much the same as this year.”

Kottlowski said that just because there are similarities between 2014 and 2015, it doesn’t mean the storms will form in the same spots.

Forecasters say the Gulf of Mexico is the biggest area of concern.

“The water temperatures are warmer (in the Gulf of Mexico) than in the past few years, and this could support early-season development,” he said. “But I don’t want to diminish the potential for anywhere along the coast to be hit by a hurricane or a tropical storm this year.”

Kottlowski reminded residents near the coast to remain prepared and vigilant.

“Just because this season’s numbers are low, it doesn’t mean that people should let their guard down,” he said. “It only takes one storm to cause a lot of destruction.”

County EMA Director Susan Harris echoed Kottlowski’s sentiments.

“It’s important to be prepared,” she said. “Especially with all the state changes. We have been told that we may not be able to get supplies such as ice, tarps and water or that they may be hard to get.”

Harris said that means it’s crucial that local families take the time to put together a hurricane preparedness kit.

“We want everyone to be prepared,” she said. “We know that if we are not able to get these supplies at the state level, we will definitely not be able to have them on the county level.”

A basic hurricane kit should include non-perishable food items, water, any needed medication, a first aid kit and some means of receiving weather information – preferably a battery-powered NOAA weather radio.

Additionally, residents should have knowledge of hurricane evacuation routes, which run down Hwy. 55, and families need to have a plan of where to go in case of evacuation.

Those living in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding, as well as people living in mobile homes, especially need to be prepared.