Be prepared: Atlantic could see 3 to 6 major hurricanes this year
Federal forecasters are predicting the seventh straight above-normal Atlantic hurricane season and urging preparedness to avoid a repeat of disasters like Hurricane Ida, which lashed Louisiana and produced tornadoes and floods in the northeast last year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there's a high probability we'll see 14 to 21 named storms this season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. As many as 10 could be hurricanes and three to six could be major hurricanes, with winds over 111 miles an hour, NOAA said.
The trend of above-normal hurricane seasons comes as global warming makes storms more intense. NOAA says key factors again this year are above-average temperatures on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and the ongoing effects of the Pacific Ocean climate pattern known as La Niña.
Last summer, Hurricane Ida caused at least 87 direct and indirect deaths and $75 billion in damage in the U.S. While forecasting accuracy continues to improve, NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said: "It's crucial to remember that it only takes one storm to damage your home, neighborhood and community. Preparedness is key to the resilience that we need and now is the time to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season."
Last year's hurricane season reminded North Carolinians that storms can hit anywhere — not just at the coast, said Keith Acree, a spokesperson with North Carolina Emergency Management.
"We did have that Gulf Coast storm Fred that came up into the mountains last year. That was the big event last year and they're still cleaning up from that," Acree said.
And there are still plenty of not-so-fond memories of storms like Michael and Florence in 2019 and Dorian last year.
Acree said people shouldn't wait to prepare things like an emergency kit and a few days' supplies. And whether you're a townie or a tourist in a coastal county, make sure you know your evacuation zone.
"Then you listen for that zone when evacuations are called so you know when it's time to evacuate, or if you need to evacuate," he said.
You can look that up online at https://knowyourzone.nc.gov/
Acree suggested that people should arrange ahead of time a place to go in case of an evacuation, whether it's the home of a friend or family member or a hotel. Emergency shelters are also an option, but given continued concerns about COVID-19, he said, "a public shelter should really be your place of last resort if you have to evacuate."
And if you're in a safe zone, he added, "Offer your home up as a shelter to your family or friends that might be in harm's way."