Get yourself prepared

Published 9:47 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

Before the 2017 hurricane season had even begun on Thursday, one of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s names for tropical storms already had been used. When it strengthened from a tropical depression on April 20, Tropical Storm Arlene became only the second April tropical storm on record since 1851.

It was never a threat to land, staying well into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean before blowing itself out on April 21, but Arlene still provided a reminder of the seriousness of what the folks at NOAA do each year when it comes to predicting, forecasting and tracking tropical storms and hurricanes.

For 2017, NOAA is forecasting a 70-percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms — those with winds blowing at 39 mph or higher. Of those storms, five to nine could become hurricanes (with winds above 74 mph), including two to four major hurricanes — those classified as Category 3 or greater, with winds of 111 mph or higher.

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An average season, according to NOAA, produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major ones.

NOAA has a variety of new tools available to help the public understand its various forecasts, warnings and watches and to see the potential dangers associated with oncoming storms.

The commonwealth of Virginia also has released a new tool aimed at helping residents know when a potential evacuation might affect them. The idea is that different storms or other types of natural disasters will result in different types of problems for which different areas of the commonwealth would need to react in different ways.

Storm surge, for instance, would have a greater effect in some parts of Suffolk than in others. By using the “Know Your Zone” tool, which can be found at, residents can determine which zone they live in and then be alert for notifications from government agencies about evacuations of certain zones during an emergency.

While you’re visiting the website, it would be a good idea to click over to the “Prepare and Recover” tab and follow the steps to make a plan for surviving and recovering from a disaster. Then check out the sections on gathering an emergency supply kit and preparing your home to be storm-ready.

Hurricane season is here, and Hampton Roads will be at some level of risk until at least the end of November.

Get ready.