Hurricane Season Begins

The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season is underway, officially starting with the change from the month of May to the month of June.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency of the National Hurricane Center, say they are expecting an average to slightly above average season in terms of the number of storms.

Forecasters also say the initial estimates come from the fact that the conditions which drove last year's more intense season appear to be weaker or trending that way at this point.

They caution that the forecast for the number of named storms is not an indication of the number of landfalling storms we can expect, or the intensity of storms that do make landfall.

Nor can forecasters say where the storms will make landfall, so they advise caution and attention to the individual storm forecasts and how they may impact your own area.

And a new AAA study indicates that Floridians are paying attention to this, and are not inclined to roll the dice on safety this year.

According to the study, the back-to-back active hurricane seasons of 2016 and 2017 seem to have been a wakeup call for Florida residents. 

The Consumer Pulse survey revealed that 81 percent of residents said they are making advanced preparations for hurricane season; that's a 23 percent increase from 2016.

Based on AAA findings, if a named storm were to cause an evacuation, the majority of Floridians say they would heed official warnings and leave their homes. 

However, of those who would evacuate, AAA says more than half say they would only leave for a category three hurricane or greater.

People, whether they would evacuate or settle in place for a hurricane, are apparently in the mood to take more steps to make their homes hurricane ready.

Officials say there's a quick checklist you can use for that event.

First of all, make those minor repairs to the roof, windows, or downspouts. Trim trees or bushes that could damage the home in the event of high winds.

Next, make an emergency plan and have it in place in the event of a hurricane. That plan should include ways to contact each other, alternative meeting locations, and an out-of-town contact person. Identify a safe room or safest areas in your home. Research your evacuation route. Be sure and include plans for your pets.

Update the home inventory by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, when purchased and model and serial numbers as available.

As always, check the home or renter's insurance policy to make sure you have thorough coverage and that everything is up to date.

Also, make sure that the home hurricane kit is up to par. Plan for a week's worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure and have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries, what-have-you. 

If you take prescription medicines, make sure you have enough to last for a week or more without having to visit the pharmacy.

There is always the chance that none of this will be necessary, but you'll have it close to hand if you end up needing it, and that will take a load off your mind should the storm season heat up.

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