Experts: Don't let your guard down with slow hurricane season
This graphic shows the updated Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast. / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The hurricane season may not be as active as initially indicated, but vigilance should still be exercised.
Seasonal forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center increased the likelihood of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 60 percent, an increase from the 25 percent outlook in May, according to its updated outlook which was issued Thursday. The likelihood for a normal season is at 30 percent and an abnormal set is down to 10 percent from the initial percentage of 35.
Throughout the hurricane season — which lasts until Nov. 30 — NOAA predicts nine to 13 storms with winds of 39 mph or greater, four to seven of those to become hurricanes (74 mph and higher) and up to two becoming major hurricanes with winds above 111 mph.
Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said in a press release, “There are still more storms to come — the hurricane season is far from being over. We urge continued preparedness and vigilance.”
Despite the lowered risk, local officials don’t plan on taking the threat of a storm less serious in any capacity.
“Our approach is ‘all it takes is one,’” Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail said. “It doesn’t matter whether we have 21 hurricanes or one — we’re keeping our focus on the tropics. We ask citizens to pay attention to the weather and adhere to the bulletins.”
Dail said there are safety precautions residents can take.
“Make sure you have an emergency kit ready just in case and secure your valuables," he said. "Also, make sure you know what kind of insurance coverage you have to make sure you’re taken care of if there is a major hurricane.”
Kinston Fire Chief Don Crawford said his department will be ready for any major storm.
“Some years, they’ll say it’s not as active, but generally the bigger storms come later in the season,” Crawford said. “The peak hurricane season is coming up — late August to early September — but some of our biggest storms have come around October.
“Patterns change all the time, so we stay prepared throughout the season. Even if they say it won’t be as bad, we never let our guard down.”