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Experts: Busy hurricane season on the way, Virginians urged to plan ahead

hurricane warning sign
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Experts are predicting a busy, above-average hurricane season, and Virginia residents are urged to pay attention to the forecast and plan ahead for potential emergencies.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

Forecasters say this could be the busiest hurricane season in 25 years, with 17 to 25 named storms. Of those, eight are predicted to become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher.

Forecasters also are predicting four to seven major hurricanes at Category 3 or greater, with winds reaching 111 mph or higher.

The busier-than-normal season is attributed to a perfect storm of warmer-than-average ocean temperatures combined with La Niña.

The warm ocean temperatures fuel storms. La Niña will lessen wind shear in the tropics allowing storms to develop and intensify in the Atlantic basin.

“Severe weather and emergencies can happen at any moment, which is why individuals and communities need to be prepared today,” said FEMA deputy administrator Erik Hooks. “Already, we are seeing storms move across the country that can bring additional hazards like tornadoes, flooding and hail.”

Keep your family safe by monitoring weather reports and establishing a family communications plan.

Virginia Farm Bureau’s Hurricane Preparedness Central provides a family communications plan for download and has other tips for hurricane preparation.

Preparing for a hurricane

  • Homeowners should should inspectin roof
  • Clear gutters
  • Seal any cracks or gaps on your home’s exterior to avoid water damage
  • Trim or remove weak trees and branches near the house and structures to protect your property from high winds
  • Ensure sump pumps and drains are working properly
  • Test generators and power backups

If a storm is imminent

  • Residents should secure their property by boarding up windows with plywood
  • Move inside any outdoor furniture and items that could become flying projectiles during storms
  • Secure important documents in a watertight container

What to include in an emergency kit

  • Ensure your car has a full tank of gas in case of an evacuation
  • Three- to five-day supply of food
  • Change of clothes
  • First-aid kit
  • Battery powered radio
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Medication
  • Cash and credit cards

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.