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Hurricane Preparedness: Forecasting hurricanes

READ MORE: Hurricane Preparedness: Forecasting hurricanes
Sunday marks the start of hurricane season, but the forecasting process to predict this season's outlook has been going on for months. The impact of this multi-decadal cycle, and what it's showing is we have weaker trade winds and a light shear. Translation -- this is expected to be a busy hurricane season. With the official start to hurricane season just days away, the national weather service office in Wilmington is monitoring conditions closely. National Weather Service science & operations officer Reid Hawkins said, "You always have to keep monitoring what's happening. Now with the technology that we have in the last 30 to 40 years, hurricanes don't sneak up on us anymore." Even with a warning, predicting the pattern of a hurricane is a complicated process. Years of experience and scientific know-how goes into forecasting the weather. The first step in the forecast process is communication. The National Weather Service office in Wilmington is a 24 hour-a-day, seven days a week operation. As a storm approaches, the latest information is transmitted to each weather service office around the country. That information is what helps the public know how to prepare. "I think that's the most important. When we get to the point when we are 48 hours, 24 hours, 6 hours before a storm approaches is for people to know what to do," said Hawkins. The National Hurricane Center issues a notice to our local weather service office to inform the public. A watch means conditions are favorable for a hurricane to happen. A warning means severe weather conditions are about to occur. Forecasters have already predicted this season will be 65 percent more active than last year due to changes in wind patterns and warmer waters in the Atlantic. The height of hurricane season around here is typically around September, but Hawkins said good planning is your best line of defense for whatever comes our way. "Any year, anything can happen, so you need to be prepared," said Hawkins. Friday, we'll continue hurricane preparedness week with a look at what items you'll need to have handy in your home to be prepared for emergencies.

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