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Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 3:53am

'Above Average' Hurricane Season Predicted

Forecasters are predicting an ‘above normal’ Atlantic hurricane season, which opens Wednesday. State officials hope coastal Georgians take that as a cue for preparation.

National Weather Service hurricane analyst Gerry Bell puts the ‘very active’ season description in numerical terms:

“6 to 10 hurricanes is a lot. 3 to 6 major hurricanes is a lot. So the key point here is that we’re expecting an above normal season.”

Major hurricanes are storms with top winds of 111 mph and up. No major hurricanes have made a U.S. landfall in five years, but forecasters warn that luck might not last.

Bell says wind and air pressure patterns, along with warm Atlantic waters, are the reasons behind the forecast.

The last major threat to Georgia's coastline was in 1999. But Dan Stowers with the states' Emergency Management Agency says state and local agencies meet annually for important planning—as they did last week.

“The big focus on getting residents not to be complacent. It has been now 12 years since Hurricane Floyd, and really get the word out that now is the time to prepare.”

The last hurricane to make landfall on Georgia’s coast was David in 1979.