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Forecasters Say This Year Won't Be as Hurricane-Free as Last

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RALEIGH — The 1998 Hurricane season is here, and while predictions vary on the number and intensity of expected storms, it's always a good idea to be prepared, just in case.

Forecasters say they don't believe we'll breeze through hurricane season like last year.

"All indications are we should have a fairly normal year. In a normal year, this year, we're looking for 10 named storms, six of which will strengthen into hurricane force," said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Harned.

Two years ago, North Carolinians learned a great deal about how to better prepare for one of nature's most destructive storms, when Hurricane Fran carved a path across the state. But it's not just about having enough food, batteries and flashlights. Those who track such storms, and who handle the initial disaster response also have some advances they'll roll out the next time a big storm heads this way.

The National Weather Service in Raleigh notes that prediction covers the entire Atlantic Ocean. There's no way, according to scientists, of knowing if any of these storms will ever make landfall.

Forecasters have several new tools to help them pinpoint a hurricane's path. One instrument gets parachuted into a storm to relay critical measurements.

Help in the form of chainsaws, ice, and other in-demand materials will come much faster if a hurricane wallops North Carolina. The Division of Emergency Management is making a list of each county's basic needs and getting commitments from vendors to deliver the goods within 24 hours, even on short notice.

"We're now sitting down with them and more or less negotiating what their needs are day by day and so those will already be cued up and ready to go in a sequence of events," said Eric Tolbert, director of the state Division of Emergency Management.


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