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New NHC Director: No Matter What, Prepare

SWEETWATER (CBSMiami) – The new director of the National Hurricane Center has barely found the keys to his office, but he’s already warning South Florida not to be complacent despite forecasts of what’s being called an ‘average’ hurricane season.

Dr. Rick Knabb, a hurricane researcher are former Weather Channel hurricane specialist, was named to head the NHC last month, in a year when forecasters are not predicting the extensive activity of past years.

He told CBS4 Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli that while that forecast may be comforting to people, he thinks anyone who lets their hurricane awareness guard down because of it is making a mistake.

“If I were able to tell you with 100 percent accuracy that there would only be seven named storms, and only 4 hurricanes and only one major hurricane, overall, for the entire Atlantic hurricane basin for the entire hurricane season, we might want to take a collective sign of relief,” he said.

Knabb said that with that sigh people might decide not to prepare.

“Remember, those were the exact same numbers in 1992, and that one major hurricane, Hurricane Andrew, that struck South Florida with Category 5 intensity.”

Knabb said that’s a clear example of how seasons can be predicted, but individual storm path and intensity simply are not knowable as part of the outlook.

“You have to prepare in case that one hits you,” he said.

While an “average” year has been predicted, two tropical storms formed before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season June 1, with one striking Florida.

Tropical Storm Beryl was unusual in that it struck in the Jacksonville area, generally considered an area storms had historically avoided.

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