Hurricane Season Will Be 'Near Normal' This Year NOAA forecasts that two to four major hurricanes will form this year in the Atlantic. But even an average year can cause record-breaking damage, as storms get bigger and wetter.
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The 2019 Hurricane Season Will Be 'Near Normal.' But Normal Can Still Be Devastating

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The 2019 Hurricane Season Will Be 'Near Normal.' But Normal Can Still Be Devastating

The 2019 Hurricane Season Will Be 'Near Normal.' But Normal Can Still Be Devastating

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Federal storm forecasters say this year's Atlantic hurricane season will be near normal. As NPR's Rebecca Hersher reports, that still means a lot of potentially damaging storms.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Federal hurricane forecasters are predicting between nine and 15 named storms this year. That includes tropical storms. Two to four of those will become so-called major hurricanes, which means wind speeds capable of tearing the roof off a house. So yeah, Gerry Bell of the National Hurricane Center says don't be fooled by the term normal.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

GERRY BELL: Nine to 15 named storms is a lot. Four to eight hurricanes is a lot. Two to four major hurricanes is a lot. So the key message is we're expecting a near normal season. But regardless, that's a lot of activity. You need to start getting prepared for the hurricane season now.

HERSHER: At a press conference today, he and other federal weather officials repeated that warning over and over. Be prepared. It's a reaction to two years in a row of above-average damage from hurricanes - hundreds of billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of homes wrecked. FEMA even sent someone to today's event to deliver a warning.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

DANIEL KANIEWSKI: My message today - it only takes one. It only takes one landfalling hurricane to cause great destruction to a community.

HERSHER: Daniel Kaniewski is a deputy administrator at FEMA. He focused a lot of his remarks on preparing for flooding. That's because even hurricanes with relatively low wind speeds can cause a lot of damage. Take hurricanes Florence and Harvey in the last two years. Both dropped record-breaking rain.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

KANIEWSKI: Flood insurance is not included in your homeowner's policy. You need to request it separately.

HERSHER: Forecasters did note that the El Nino climate pattern is happening this year. That usually means fewer hurricanes but not this year. This El Nino won't give the U.S. that break. That's because the water in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico is warmer than average in part because the whole Earth is getting hotter. And hot water acts like an engine for hurricanes, fueling their creation and making them bigger and wetter. Together it all adds up to a normal year, and normal can be a real punch in the gut. Rebecca Hersher, NPR News.

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