GULF SHORES — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Alabama’s Gulf Coast officials are preparing for hurricane season.
The season begins on June 1 and goes through November. NOAA plans to release its 2023 Hurricane Season Outlook, including the latest predictions, next week. However, local officials are hoping for a mild hurricane season in this part of the world.
“We watch the hurricane projections and the forecasts,” said Gulf Shores public information officer Grant Brown. “You know, this year is actually predicted to be a little less storms … Really that doesn’t mean a hill of beans to us. What we have to do is watch storms as they come off the coast of Africa and our local meteorologists do a really great job. You watch those to see if they will potentially get into the Gulf. Those obviously get our attention.”
Brown said after identifying a storm heading towards the Gulf of Mexico, city officials follow protocols to keep public property and residents safe. That process includes alerting the public and removing beach furniture, depending on the track and strength of hurricanes. Behind the scenes, Brown said a lot is happening between city officials and the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Before the storm hits, plans for debris removal are already in place.
Grant said everyone should have a plan similar to the city’s plan.
“You have to know where you are going to go,” he said. “If you have pets, you have to make sure you can take them to wherever you’re going. You have to plan ahead.”
Other important things to do before a hurricane include communicating your evacuation plan with everyone in your household, gathering supplies such as water, mediations and disinfectants, making sure you have multiple ways to get alerts, reviewing insurance documents and personal documents to make sure everything is up to date and making sure your phone is charged. At home, it is important to declutter your drains, put outdoor furniture inside and consider hurricane shutters.
Meanwhile, NOAA is continuing to study what is happening around the world and preparing to fly into hurricanes with its Hurricane Hunter aircraft. They have two Lockheed WP-3D Orion four-engine turboprop aircraft that allow them to fly through the eyewall of a hurricane. They also use a Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV) to fly high and fast ahead of and around storms.
That data is used to improve forecasts and predictions during a hurricane.
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