Monday marks official start of 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Monday marks official start of 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Source: NOAA
Source: NOAA

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Monday marks the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Although a tropical storm made landfall in the Carolinas in May, June 1 marks the beginning of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season which runs through November 30.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal, but that's no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.

The official NOAA outlook for the 2015 hurricane season indicates a 70 percent probability of a below normal season, a 20 percent probability of a near normal season and a 10 percent probability of an above normal season.

NOAA predicts 6-11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3-6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher). This includes 0-2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

"A below-normal season doesn't mean we're off the hook. As we've seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities," said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., referring to the 1992 season in which only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated South Florida.

A lot of people wonder just how good are these predictions. NOAA says they're very good.

"We've nailed the outlooks five of the last six years," chief NOAA forecaster Jerry Bell said.

NOAA has new slosh models to help understand the risk of flood in a tropical storm.

"It scales down to a more manageable level that shows scales more pertinent to emergency managers here," added Sullivan.

Weather watchers warn that even though they're forecasting a lower than usual number of storms, in an El Nino year, there's no reason to lower your guard.

"You go back to '57 with Audrey and '65 with Betsy, all El Nino years, we have to prepare like we're going to be hit," said Ken Graham with the National Weather Service.

City officials say it's time to stock up on storm necessities like canned food, bottled water and batteries.

"You have to be prepared for 72 hours of no one getting to you. That's the window everyone needs to prepare for," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

And they say if and when an evacuation order is given, everyone should heed the warning.

FEMA says the contracts are in place to provide busses for those who don't have a vehicle. If you fall in that category, you should call 311 to register for a bus ride. And they say everyone should familiarize themselves with the "evacuteer" sculptures all over town for bus pickup locations.

Copyright 2015. WVUE all rights reserved