Tropical Storm Alberto Ushers in 2012 Hurricane Season Ahead of Schedule

January 9, 2013

Tropical storm Alberto loomed off South Carolina’s coast Sunday, prompting tourist cruises to cancel operations and spawning rain showers along the coastline. Alberto is the first named storm of the 2012 hurricane season, reminding us that the official start of the hurricane season is just around the corner.

This first tropical storm of the 2012 season arrived two weeks ahead of schedule as the season officially kicks off on June 1st.The storm system is on a slow moving, southwesterly track but it’s forecast to turn northeast sometime today (Monday) and head out to sea where it will dissipate. The tropical storm is not expected to grow stronger due in part to a cool, dry air mass to the north and west of the system. Even though Alberto is not going to make landfall, that has not stopped officials in several North Carolina counties from preparing for storms later in the season.

Residents in numerous North Carolina coastal communities are being told that now’s the time to put together emergency storm kits and to agree on family evacuation plans and routes. They are also being told that it’s important to listen to regional and local watches and warnings whenever a tropical storm or hurricane is in the forecast. Many people lose their lives in hurricanes because they don’t heed evacuation orders as was clearly evident during Katrina. People living in coastal regions are also being reminded that it only takes one hurricane to make landfall to make it a very active season for them.

There is expected to be a total of ten named storms this year – four hurricanes and two major hurricanes included in that tally.

South Carolina’s National Guard has been busy preparing for the 2012 hurricane season. Leaders of various units gathered last week to establish headquarters and supply points. They also made plans for moving supply and workers to various points in the state, depending upon where a hurricane might strike. This type of early planning helps the Guard ready its units in case it is called upon by the governor or FEMA.

Homeowners living in hurricane-prone areas still have time to install storm shutters and to check the outside of their homes. It’s highly advisable to repair loose shingles, to clear gutters and storm drains and to cut away tree limbs and dying trees near structures. It’s also advisable to secure large objects such as water or fuel tanks.

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