Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted

The six-month 2011 hurricane season begins June 1. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has predicted three to six major hurricanes will form during it.

Although no storms were brewing in the Atlantic Ocean as the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1, plenty of organizations are alerting coastal residents about preparedness during what is predicted to be a busy season. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued its prediction May 19 that three to six major hurricanes -- Category 3, 4, or 5, with winds of 111 mph or more) will form during this season. The forecast predicts six to 10 hurricanes (wind speeds of 74 mph or more) will occur.

These ranges have a 70 percent likelihood, meaning the center expects a season busier than the average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.

"The United States was fortunate last year. Winds steered most of the season's tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA's administrator. "However, we can't count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook."

The police department in Slidell, La., held its annual hurricane preparedness public meeting on June 1, and the U.S. Coast Guard recently issued advice for coastal Virginia mariners and residents for actions to take when storms approach:

  • Stay informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through newspapers, the Internet, and local television and radio stations.
  • Evacuate as necessary: Mandatory evacuation orders should be obeyed. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate people in danger during a storm.
  • Secure your boats and boating equipment: Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Mariners who leave their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets, and tenders.
  • Be cautious of hazardous materials: If you have hazardous materials on or near the water, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to secure these materials prior to any foul weather.
  • Stay clear of beaches: Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by storms. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe.

The Coast Guard reminded mariners that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm and generally are authorized to remain closed to waterway traffic up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 32 mph or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered.

Visit the National Hurricane Center's website for more information about hurricane preparedness and developments.

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