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Norwalkers Urged To Prepare for Hurricane Season

Don't look now – Wednesday is the official start of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Bad news: The forecast from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is for an active hurricane season for the Atlantic basin this year. And Norwalk residents are urged to be prepared.

NOAA stressed that the forecast is probabilistic, meaning the stated "likely ranges of activity have a certain likelihood of occurring." But the agency calls for a 65 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. This is based on expected conditions, including a continuation of above-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea and no El Niño or La Niña effects. Computer models also generally predict an above-normal season.

"The conditions expected this year have historically produced some active Atlantic hurricane seasons," NOAA says. "Therefore, the 2011 season could see activity comparable to a number of active seasons since 1995. We estimate a 70 percent probability for each of the following ranges of activity during 2011:

• 12 to 18 named storms

• Six to 10 hurricanes

• Three to six major hurricanes

The Norwalk Fire Department Office of Emergency Management is using the forecast to suggest that every family develop an emergency plan and put basic supplies in place. Director Michele DeLuca suggests residents join the Great Hurricane Blowout, a first of its kind preparedness campaign designed to help families get ready for hurricane season, using Twitter and Facebook. The idea is to make getting ready for potential hurricanes fun with online contests and videos.

"In addition to the potential of hurricanes, the summer months also bring power outages, summer heat and severe thunderstorms, having an emergency plan and a disaster supply kit in place can help residents and have the confidence to handle a number of situations" Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said in a statement. "This year, we hope residents will participate in this initiative and encourage their friends and family to do the same."

"Walk through the phases of the Blowout and get the whole family involved as you go through the steps to get you and your home prepared," said DeLuca. "Each step of the Blowout builds on the last to create a comprehensive preparedness plan. Move through the steps with us and, once you're done, you'll be able to breathe easy knowing that you're ready for whatever hurricane season brings!"

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