Tracking the Tropics
National Hurricane Center gears up for 2013 season
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WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The start of hurricane season kicks off Saturday and NHC forecasters are getting ready for what's expected to be an active season of storms.
NCH officials want to advise residents not to let their guard down, even though South Florida has not seen a hurricane since 2005, when Hurricane Wilma, a category 3 storm, blew through.
This hurricane season, NOAA has forecasted 13 to 20 storms, seven to 11 of which could reach hurricane strength winds and up six of those could be major hurricanes of category 3 and above. "It doesn't matter how many we ultimately get, if one of them or two or more of them come here," said National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb.
However, officials emphasized, not to focus on the numbers because all it takes is one storm to cause major damage to your home. So, they want residents to prepare the basics with three days of supplies, including water and food. Also, securely store documents like insurance policies.
A big part of several South Florida areas are now considered flood zones. Experts say storm surges can cause the most damage and take the most lives. "This year, more then ever, it's important to know your evacuation zones because they have changed," said NOAA storm surge specialist Jamie Rhome.
The NHC also wants to warn residents to check their flood areas as they have been re-evaluated, and more new South Florida areas have now been deemed flood zones. "Identify whether or not you're in a hurricane storm surge evacuation zone," said Knabb. "We always tell people to put together their hurricane preparedness plan."
The nation watched as Oklahoma was hit by a massive tornado. FEMA turned to that event as a reminder of why it's important to prepare early. "We may not have as many tornados as they do out in Oklahoma, but we certainly do have tornados history here in Florida," said FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. "So learn about the hazards, make sure you have a plan, know what to do and have a way of getting a warning."
U.S. House Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (Dem.-FL) also expressed the importance of checking your area. "Now, they are updating the storm surge maps, so it's very important that if you previously did not live in a storm surge evacuation zone that you check the maps because they're new and you may live in a storm surge evacuation zone now when you didn't before," said Wasserman-Schultz. "That is really critical because we know it will save lives and property."
The sequester is in effect until October, which means there will be less government employees, including nearly 1,000 National Guard men and several hurricane center employees. "What is so idiotic about the sequester is it's a meat clever approach across the board. That's why is hitting people in NOAA," said Florida Bill Nelson (Dem-FL).
Tonight our special, "Surviving a Storm" will air at 8 p.m. During the hour, we'll help you to get hurricane ready for this season's storms.
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