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      Getting prepared for hurricane season

      The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1st and lasts until November 30th.As part of our special coverage of Hurricane Week, we are looking at the development of a hurricane and how Southwest Georgia is affected.

      When hurricanes develop, they need a lot of warm water and relatively light wind shear.

      National Hurricane Center Storm Surge Specialist Jaime Rhome says that the storm goes through several stages, "you have the tropical depression, which is the weakest stage of a cyclone. If it intensifies or gets better organized, it becomes a tropical storm and from there it goes to a hurricane. Once it becomes a hurricane, there are five stages, or the so-called Saffir-Simpson Scale that is based on wind speed."

      Even though we don't like hurricanes to hit land, it is a natural part of how the Earth atmospheric and oceanic systems work.

      As these tropical systems develop and move towards land, watches and warnings are issued.

      National Weather Service Meteorologist Kelly Godsey says, "don't focus on that skinny black line down the center of the cone. The storm can be anywhere in the cone three, four, five days out so if you're included in that threat area, inside that cone, you really need to be paying attention to where that storm is going to go."

      Every coastal community from Canada, through the Eastern Atlantic and Gulf Coast, Latin America, and across the Caribbean is vulnerable to these massive storms.

      National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb says, " tropical storms and hurricanes are not just coastal events, the inland effects have occurred many times in the past with some devastating consequences.

      There are four primary threats associated with approaching tropical systems: storm surge, wind, inland flooding and tornadoes. Southwest Georgia is at risk for all but storm surge.

      Recently NOAA released the seasonal hurricane outlook for the year; typically in the Atlantic, we get about 11 named storms, about 6 hurricanes and 2 to 3 major hurricanes.

      Due to El Nino, we're expecting a little less activity than usual but that doesn't mean the storms that do develop will be less intense.

      Godsey adds, "it's only gonna take one storm in our area to cause significant destruction."

      There's no good time for a tropical system but there's always a good time to be prepared going into hurricane season.