South Florida has started preparing for this year's hurricane season. Local, state and federal officials met this week at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Miami to discuss the latest developments and what this years' storms looks like for the region.
Researchers at NOAA predict a near-normal to below-normal season this year.
“This hurricane season NOAA is forecasting eight to 13 named storms, three to six hurricanes and one to two major hurricanes,” says Robert Atlas, director at NOAA. “But the need to prepare is as strong as ever. It only takes one storm to make it a bad hurricane season.”
Atlas compared this season's prediction with the year 1992, which also had an inactive season until Hurricane Andrew hit in August.
Emergency alerts for the community were a main topic for Broward and Miami-Dade counties and the American Red Cross in South Florida. Officials have been working on communication and education about hurricanes.
One of the latest ways to keep people informed is through the new Red Cross smartphone app, where users will receive alerts from both NOAA and the National Hurricane Center.
“The apps are really exciting,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the conference. “You can have it on your own device and make sure that you don't have to wait until they cover it on the news.”
Development for new tools and storm search were other top priorities on their agenda.
NOAA is working with several universities in South Florida on their Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project which reduces errors in hurricane tracking, and allows researchers to forecast storms up to seven days before it hits the region.
Atlas said there have been important advances in both areas. They hope to keep improving this in the next years so they can reduce any threats to life during storms.