Get ready right now

Published 8:57 pm Monday, June 2, 2014

There’s some good news with regards to hurricane season this year, in that few storms are projected to form in the Atlantic. You shouldn’t let that put your guard down, however, as a single storm landing in the right spot can have a huge impact.

The prediction center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a report predicting that the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will be average or below average, thanks to an expected El Niño phenomenon. Eight to 13 tropical storms are expected to originate in the Atlantic Ocean, with three to six of those expected to reach hurricane strength of 74 miles per hour or higher.

Forecasters emphasized that the seasonal forecast, predicting weather patterns from June 1 to Nov. 30, isn’t an exact science. Last year’s experience proves the case, as forecasters predicted one of the more active seasons, but it ended up being the calmest season since 1982.

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Still, one Category 3 storm that makes landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina or at Virginia Beach would likely prove catastrophic for Hampton Roads, even though it might register as just a blip within the nation’s hurricane season.

How many people who live in Seaside, N.J., have forgotten the savagery of Superstorm Sandy? Conversely, how many folks in Dallas could even recall what year that massive storm scrubbed its way up the East Coast? The point is that people are wired to best remember the things that happen directly to them and forget those things they experience only through the stories of others. A family that has been through a fire is far more likely to be vigilant with candles than one that’s never experienced it.

But part of being an adult is recognizing the fact that disaster can strike anywhere and realizing one’s responsibility to be prepared. Even though most of us haven’t lost a home to fire, we know to be careful with matches. Similarly, none of us can control the weather, but we can all be prepared for it.

That’s what we have in mind for the special section inserted into today’s edition of the Suffolk News-Herald. There, you’ll find plenty of tips for preparing for disasters, whether hurricanes, tornadoes or other natural or man-made crisis. Most of the suggestions do not require complicated or expensive actions. Most are commonsense ideas for making sure a plan is in place to provide the basic necessities of life in the event of a crisis.

The nation has plenty of experience with devastating hurricanes, and federal and state agencies have valuable advice to offer. The failure comes when those who could have prepared did not do so. So get ready. Right now.