Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a below-normal 2015 Atlantic hurricane season in a press conference this week from their headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana.
According to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, expectations for the 2015 season, which begins June 1, are below normal with “a 70 percent likelihood of six to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which three to six could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to two major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).”
Even though this year’s predictions seem to favor the Atlantic and Gulf coasts with the Atlantic Basin averaging 10 named storms a year and 2.5 hurricanes, NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan reinforced the danger of these storms for coastal areas.
“A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan cited hurricane Andrew as an example since it was first of only seven storms during a light hurricane season, but the destruction it caused to South Florida in 1992 proved to be one of the most devastating storms in recent history.
Steve Pfaff, a representative of The National Weather Service in Wilmington, agrees that this year’s storm predictions should not be taken lightly.
“Every year we need to prepare like this is our year, and the best way to do that is to have a plan,” Pfaff said.
Pfaff suggests that before this hurricane season starts the best thing to do is have a family plan, which includes:
- Making sure you know the exact location of where you’re going in the event of an evacuation and not waiting too long to leave.
- Check insurance plans and confirm that your coverage includes hail, water and wind damage.
- Clear any debris or dead trees from your yard that could be picked up or knocked over by high wind gusts.
- And most importantly, Pfaff said, get into the information loop and stay informed through outlets such as The National Weather Service, Hurricanes.gov, and ReadyNC.org.
To find out more about this year’s hurricane season and for other helpful information to stay prepared for severe weather, click here.