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NOAA predicts busy hurricane season

Meteorologists have predicted a busy hurricane season — something the gulf coast has not seen since the days of Katrina — and Escambia County Emergency Management Agency Director David Adams hopes area residents will prepare.

“We must take action and prepare now for the hurricane season,” Adams said. “The time to get ready for a hurricane is now. We need to be prepared for a disaster if we are hit by a storm.”

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have made predictions that show a busy season. NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges: 14 to 23 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph).

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco said if current predictions hold true the 2010 season could be one for the records.

“If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record,” Lubchenco said. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.”

Adams said being prepared is the best way to survive following a storm that brings power outages, store closings and travel limitations.

“When a storm hits that takes out our power we need to be prepared to survive without it,” Adams said. “By preparing for that possibility ahead of time, the chances of making it through that situation are better and will be more comfortable for you.”

Adams said past storms have taught many lessons on what is needed during extended power outages and store closures.

“Ivan taught a lot of people a lot of lessons,” Adams said. “We learned that we need to be ready with provisions and a plan for survival for more than just a few days.”

When Hurricane Ivan struck the Gulf Coast in August 2004, devastation was felt inland leaving Brewton area residents without power for up to 14 days in some areas. Some grocery and retail stores were closed for up to a week making fresh foods, ice and other necessities impossible to get.

Adams said the next storm is always the one we have to be prepared to survive.

“We always need to be prepared for one storm — the next one,” Adams said. “If we have a storm approaching it may be too late to prepare then. The time to prepare for the storm is before it happens. If we dodge a bullet and don’t get hit with a disaster, we need to begin preparing for the next storm. Being prepared is essential for surviving after a hurricane disaster.”

Adams said the season is gearing up to be an active one and preparations will be the key to making it through tough times following a storm.

“With all of the predictions for the season we may see some significant activity,” Adams said. “If people will plan and prepare life will be a lot easier if we do get a hit here.”

For more preparedness information, visit the NOAA/National Hurricane Center Web site at www.nhc.noaa.gov and view the hurricane awareness section.