The six-month 2021 Atlantic hurricane season began Tuesday. Fortunately, all is quiet in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, and there are no storms in sight for at least the next five days, the National Hurricane Center said.
As it has in several recent years, the season got a head-start: Tropical Storm Ana formed May 22, spinning harmlessly in the Atlantic for about two days before petering out.
The next storm name is Bill, followed by Claudette, Danny and Elsa. The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30.
The eastern Pacific hurricane season officially began May 15. Two storms have formed there: Andres and Blanca.
What's the forecast for 2021?
The federal government expects another active Atlantic hurricane season this year: As many as 10 hurricanes could form, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said last month. An average season sees seven hurricanes.
Meteorologists from Colorado State University, among the nation's top hurricane forecasters, predicted that eight hurricanes would form.
The Weather Channel and AccuWeather also predicted a busier-than-usual hurricane season.
If predictions prove accurate, this would be the sixth consecutive season with above-average activity.
What you should do to prepare
The National Weather Service said the time to prepare for a hurricane is now, when you have the time and are not under pressure from an approaching storm. Here are a few tips on getting in gear for the season:
First, find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. If you do, plan where you would go and how you would get there.
You’re going to need supplies, not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy aftermath. Have enough nonperishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of three days. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long. You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. You may need a portable crank or solar-powered USB charger for your cellphones.
Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance checkup to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to repair or even replace your home. Don’t forget coverage for your car or boat. Remember, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding.
If you plan to ride out the storm in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Many retrofits are not as costly or time-consuming as you may think. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors.
What happened last year?
There were a record 30 named storms last year, 14 of them hurricanes and seven categorized as major hurricanes (with sustained winds of at least 111 mph). There were so many storms that the Greek alphabet had to be used to name all of the storms for only the second time on record.
It was the fifth-costliest season on record; damage was estimated at more than $50 billion, according to NOAA.
Laura was the USA's deadliest hurricane of the season. The storm killed at least 40 people after roaring into Louisiana on Aug. 27 with winds of 150 mph. It was the most destructive, causing at least $14 billion in damage in the USA.
Contributing: Cheryl McCloud, Florida Today
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hurricane season starts today: Here's your forecast and how to prepare