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National Hurricane Center sees forecasts as reminder to prepare

It's been a decade since Hurricane Charley made landfall near Port Charlotte and cut a path of devastation across Florida.

Since then, scientific knowledge about hurricanes has taken many different turns.

We talked recently with National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen about what we've learned — and what we're still learning — about hurricanes.

Last season was the first since 1994 to end with no major hurricanes. What should we take away from that?

One of the big takeaways from the 2013 season is the fact that there is an awful lot of media and, for lack of another word, hype, that goes into a seasonal outlook.

I think people take that forecast as being the last word. There is a tremendous misconception about the seasonal outlook and last year was a great example of it.

Last year's seasonal outlook predicted far more storms than actually developed. But you maintain these forecasts lack in other ways.

It's not telling you where it's going to form, where it will make landfall and how serious that will be.

Tropical cyclones are steered by weather patterns around them at the time.

You should not use seasonal outlooks as a guide to determine whether or not you're going to have to prepare.

How should we regard the seasonal outlook and what else should people do to get ready for hurricane season?

It's a good tool in that it reminds people it's coming and to prepare. That's all anybody should be using it for.

The bottom line is, "Hey, it's hurricane season again. And we all know how vulnerable the Tampa Bay area is."

If you're prepared for it, you'll be okay. We have found time and time again that those people who have a personal hurricane plan in place and use that plan when the need arises fare far better than those who don't.

What sort of dangers are people overlooking when it comes to hurricanes.

It's not the wind but the water that kills the most people and does the most damage, Feltgen said.

Find out if you're in a hurricane evacuation zone. Most people have no idea until it's too late, and then they don't know where to go, they don't know what to do.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at cwiseman@tampabay.com or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

National Hurricane Center sees forecasts as reminder to prepare 05/12/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2014 8:45pm]
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