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2017 Hurricane Season: New Alerts Debut, Officials Emphasize Planning

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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

Today, Thursday, June 1st, is the official start of hurricane season.

 

Local officials say they’re ready. But they want to make sure you are too, and hope some new technology helps.

 

If there’s one thing state and local officials want you to know, it’s this: have a plan.

 

Fourteen state and local officials -- from the Governor to parish presidents to levee board representatives -- drove that point home at a press conference on Thursday.

 

They say you need to know where to go, how to get there, and what you’ll bring.

 

Typically, when a storm comes you’ll get notifications on your phone, hear warnings on the radio, and see maps on the news. They include how strong the wind will be, and where and when the storm might make landfall. But nothing about the real threat: water.

 

“Storm surge is the number one killer when it comes to hurricane fatalities,” says Danielle Manning, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Slidell. “It's responsible for almost 50 percent of hurricane related deaths.”

 

Manning says starting this year -- you will be warned about storm surge. Even small storms can cause big floods, like Hurricane Isaac, a few years ago.

 

“If we had a had a storm surge warning at that time,” she says, “We would have been able to alert those people -- [who lived] where we thought that there could be dangerous storm surge -- with another layer of: ‘Hey guys, really take this seriously.’”

 

The National Weather Service started putting out storm surgemaps last year. Now, if you live in coastal Louisiana, they’ll send text warnings straight to your phone.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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