Looking ahead to the 2013 tropical season

      By Tom

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) We've seen one tropical storm brush by the South Carolina coast and another is forming in the Caribbean and takingaim at Belize. What can we expect from this hurricane season?

      Well the numbers keep coming out for the 2013 hurricaneseason and it still looks to be a busy one, at least in terms of tracking thosestorms. NOAA's latest outlook for this year points to it being well abovenormal for a hurricane season.

      Normally we would see 12 named storms with 6.5 of thosebecoming hurricanes. Two of those hurricanes would become major or a Category 3hurricane or greater. This year NOAA has issued their prediction of 13-20 namedstorms; 7-11 will become hurricanes and 3-6 will become major hurricanes.

      The main reasons for the predicted increase in activity arethe warmer than normal Sea Surface Temperatures. Also, an El Nino is unlikelyfor this year. Those are the winds that stifle or cut down on tropical stormformation or at least stifle the strength of the storms.

      If we have a below hurricane season or an above hurricaneseason, it only takes one slow moving tropical storm or hurricane to causeplenty of damage and destruction.

      No matter how many storms occur this year, it's always bestto be prepared. Let's look into what is really needed as we move deeper in thisyears hurricane season.

      Do you have an insurance plan that is up to date? Have youtalked to your agent lately to make sure you are fully covered and the rightdeductibles are in place? Are you required to have flood insurance? More thanlikely if you are required and you have a mortgage, it's apart of your coveragealready. You may want to think of getting flood insurance even if you're not ina flood prone area.

      It's always a great plan to have your personal papers inorder and ready at hand incase of an evacuation. You can quickly grab thosepapers and head to safety.

      Imagine evacuating your home and coming back to a damaged ordestroyed home with no paper work. It could be a long, frustrating process toget back to normal.

      Make sure you and your family have an evacuation plan. Youmay or may not be ordered to evacuate depending how close you are to the coastor river areas. Know where your evacuation routes are located. I've always saidit's better to leave early and return late - that way you'll avoid much of the traffic.

      If you do have to evacuate and you have a pet or pets, knowwhat is expected of you and your pets at different shelters and hotels. Somehotels accept pets and some don't.

      Make sure you take plenty of food and any medications foryour pets, as well.

      And speaking of medications, if you and your family evacuatethe area, make sure you have all of your medications.

      A full tank of gas along with ready cash in hand is a greatidea. Electrical power may be down for days or even weeks after a storm passes.A full tank of gas and cash in hand will put you ahead of the crowd.

      If you remain in place, make sure you have a survival kitthat will continue to provide food and water to you and your family for severaldays. Toiletries are a must as well.

      Be prepared as we continue into the hurricane season, evenif we are not effected by a storm.

      The 2013 North Atlantichurricane season officially started June 1. The last official day of the seasonwill be November 30.