NPR logo Hurricane Forecast: Fewer Storms But 'It Only Takes One'

Hurricane Forecast: Fewer Storms But 'It Only Takes One'

Hurricane Ike, 2008's strongest storm. NOAA photo hide caption

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NOAA photo

Federal officials said they expect fewer major tropical storms to threaten the U.S. mainland this year compared with last, predicting nine to 14 named storms compared with 16 in 2008.

But officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that the forecast of somewhat fewer major storms than last year shouldn't make Americans complacent.

"It only takes one to make it a very bad season," said National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read.

This year's named storms are forecast to include four to seven hurricanes with one to three of them expected to be major.

Earlier this week, the Homeland Security Department also warned Americans in coastal areas along the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard to gird themselves for likely storms.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, federal officials responsible for hurricane preparedness have spared no opportunity to warn the public to be ready for hurricane season while federal officials have repeatedly rehearsed their own preparations.

Top Obama Administration officials recently had an exercise in which they simulated in a table-top exercise their preparations and response to a major hurricane.

According to participants, President Barack Obama made it clear that they would experience Hurricane Barack if they failed to properly prepare for and respond to a major storm that makes landfall in the U.S. So expect more warnings.