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Yahooligans! News   Friday 1 June 2001
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Hurricane Season Begins
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Satellite image of Hurricane Adolf.
Photo: AP Wide World
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The 2001 Atlantic hurricane season begins today. Hurricane experts predict 5 to 7 hurricanes this year, which is considered an "average" season. The experts point out, however, that even an average season must be taken seriously, since the number of storms has nothing to do with the power of each of those storms.

"Don't focus on the numbers. You need to be prepared," says Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. He adds, "Have a plan. Don't wait for the hurricane to come knocking on your door."

The deadliest hurricane in the U.S. killed about 10,000 people in 1900, during what was considered an "average" season. It was also during an average season that the most intense hurricane in U.S. history occurred, on Labor Day 1935, in the Florida Keys.

An average hurricane season has 8 to 11 tropical storms, which are storms with heavy rain and winds of at least 39 miles per hour. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its winds increase to at least 74 miles per hour. A powerful hurricane can destroy homes, damage schools and buildings, and cause widespread power outages.

Residents of areas most likely to experience hurricanes have been advised to prepare for the worst. They have been told to stock up on canned goods, prepared foods, batteries, bottled water, and other "hurricane supplies." They are also advised to purchase these items well in advance, to avoid long lines at the stores and possibly empty shelves.

No one can be sure when or where the predicted hurricanes will occur. While new technology has increased the ability of hurricane experts to accurately predict hurricanes, it is still difficult to be 100 percent accurate. According to Max Mayfield, "I'm afraid people think we do a better job than we actually do."

Hurricane season will last until November 30, although the height of the season is mid-August to October. Last year's hurricane season included 14 tropical storms, 8 of which became hurricanes.
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