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Emergency services officials weigh in on earlier hurricane season

Named storms have formed prior to the official start of the hurricane season in about half of the past 10-15 years.
Emergency services officials weigh in on earlier hurricane season
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 7:37 PM EDT
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an above normal hurricane season for 2022. With the start of hurricane season just over a week away, first responders throughout Eastern Carolina are getting ready. WITN talked to them about a possible change to the start date of hurricane season, plus what they say we should all be doing to prepare.

“Preparation is a big thing for us and starting a little bit earlier I think would be beneficial,” said Onslow County Emergency Services Director Norman Bryson. Long before June 1, emergency management officials are setting up for the first storm. “It is a reality here in Eastern North Carolina, so if you look at the entire eastern United States to include the Gulf, the entire east coast of North Carolina is one of the areas that is hit most by hurricanes.”

Named storms have formed before the official start of hurricane season for the past seven years. That’s why the National Weather Service has a team looking into moving the start date from June 1 to May 15.

“I think the one lesson we should learn from that is not just hurricane season, but for all possible scenarios, we should all be prepared to be ready at short notice for the worst event,” said Craven County Emergency Services Director Stanley Kite. Kite says storm surges and flooding are major concerns. “We’re trying to remind people to first of all, know your evacuation zone.”

If it gets to that point, you’ll need a plan for where to go.

“We encourage those people who have the ability and the means, if you plan to evacuate, then be sure you evacuate west of the I-95 corridor. Anything east of the I-95 corridor is still in the wind zone 2 rating area, which means you’re subjected to wind damage anywhere east of that I-95 corridor,” Kite explained. Regardless of when the technical start date of hurricane lands it’s, of course, never too early to be ready.

“You don’t have to wait until one’s named because you’re going to find yourself standing in line at stores trying to find supplies, you’re going to find yourself in a mad dash trying to get competitive. And I think we all know now that supplies are limited anyway, so you do not need to wait until you’re in a crisis,” said Kite.

While they are considering an earlier start date for the season, the National Hurricane Center says they are not making any change to its time frame this season.

“To provide more consistent information on the potential for late May and early June systems, NHC in 2021 began the routine issuance of the Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook (TWO) on May 15th, which is when routine TWOs also began for the eastern Pacific basin,” said National Hurricane Center Public Affairs Director Dennis Feltgen. “The WMO RA-IV hurricane committee did not discuss or vote on any resolution to alter the official hurricane season dates during its 44th annual meeting in April.”

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