NOAA forecasts 1-3 major hurricanes this year
Conditions in the atmosphere and ocean indicate a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with one to three major hurricanes, according the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predictions.
Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and lasts six months. When a hurricane's top winds are 111 mph or higher, they are considered major, according to a May 24 release from NOAA.
Near-average sea surface temperatures across much of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, along with continued overall conditions associated with the Atlantic high-activity area that began in 1995, are factors that favor storm development this season, the release said.
On the other hand, cooler sea surface temperatures in the far eastern Atlantic and strong wind shear, both of which are current conditions, can limit storm development if they persist.
But "unless you're in the reinsurance business, the seasonal forecast has very little meaning for any actions that you're going to take," said Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at a May 30 White House press briefing. That's because the forecast does not predict where landfalling hurricanes will hit.
Fugate also said there were two key lessons FEMA learned in 2011, particularly from the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., in May of that year: "You've got to get the debris out so people can rebuild. You've got to get schools open so that children can get back to their routine," he said.
He also offered some advice for how individuals can prepare and respond. For example, during an emergency, it's better to send text messages than make cellphone calls, he said. If too many people try to make cellphone calls at the same time, it can disrupt phone service.
Additionally, social media is a good way to contact many people at once, he noted.
Fugate also said it's important to prepare for power outages and that people should remember to bring their cellphone chargers if they evacuate.
If nothing else, he added, people should create a family communication plan, including backup plans, "so when you get on that cellphone and you get that busy signal, you're not stuck, you know what the next step is."
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