06/01/06 — Hurricane season here - county gets prepared

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Hurricane season here - county gets prepared

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on June 1, 2006 1:53 PM

Forecasters expect another busy Atlantic hurricane season this year, with 17 named storms but not as many intense storms striking land as last year.

And with today as the official first day of the hurricane season, some local agencies are already making plans ... just in case.

The 2005 season was the most destructive in recorded history, with 27 named storms and 14 hurricanes, including Katrina, which devastated Louisiana and Mississippi and killed more than 1,300 people.

This year's hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30, is likely to have nine hurricanes, five of them intense, according to Colorado State University researchers led by William Gray, who has been predicting hurricane activity for 22 years.

"Even though we expect to see the current active period of Atlantic major hurricane activity to continue for another 15-20 years, it is statistically unlikely that the coming 2006-07 hurricane seasons, or the seasons that follow, will have the number of major hurricane U.S. landfall events as we have seen in 2004-2005," Gray said.

Before the start of the 2005 season, Gray's team had predicted 13 named storms, including seven hurricanes, three of them major.

For 2006, team predicts an 81 percent probability that at least one major hurricane will make landfall along the U.S. coastline, and a 47 percent probability a major hurricane will hit the Gulf Coast between the Florida Panhandle and Brownsville, Texas.

The local Salvation Army's mobile kitchen is ready in the event of a hurricane, said Maj. Andrew Wiley, commander. "We maintain the mobile kitchen at all times.

"When needed, it's operational. All we need to do is just pick up some perishables and we are ready to serve meals. If called to go outside of Wayne County, we are ready to go within a three-hour period."

Wiley said if a hurricane hits, the Salvation Army will also open its facility as a shelter, which will house up to 100 people.

"We also work closely with emergency management to function as a team in the county," he said.

The Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross said it is prepared for the 2006 hurricane season. Disaster Services Director Teresa Williams said disaster kits and supplies are ready.

"We are training our shelter volunteers and assigning them to shelters at five local schools now so they will be ready to go in the event of a hurricane," she said.

Ms. Williams said statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicate that the 2005 hurricane season was one of many firsts. It was the first with 15 hurricanes, first with four category 5 hurricanes and first with four major hurricanes hitting the United States.

She said the previous record was 21 named storms in 1933 and 12 hurricanes in 1969. The records for the number of hurricanes hitting the United States was three in 2004. The previous record of category 5 hurricanes hitting the United States was two in 1960 and 1961.