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Hurricane Forecast, Coastal Preparedness Both Mild

National hurricane watchers predict the storm season that begins next week will be less active than normal, a lack of activity that appears to be reflected in coastal residents’ preparations.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center on Thursday predicted a 75 percent chance that the season would be less active than normal, with only a 5 percent chance of a more active than average year.

The agency predicts a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms during the 2010 season, including four to eight hurricanes. Of those, up to three are expected to be CAT 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Meanwhile, a Mason-Dixon poll released Thursday by the National Hurricane Survival Initiative shows residents of nine coastal states are collectively yawning in the face of potentially deadly storms. Less than five years after Florida had devastating back to back record seasons, one in three Florida residents say they have no family disaster plan or hurricane survival kit.

More alarming, survey sponsors say, is the poll found 45 percent of Gulf state residents who live within 30 miles of the coast said they don’t feel vulnerable to a hurricane or related tornado or flooding. Nearly half don’t have a survival kit and 13 percent said they might not or would not evacuate even if ordered to leave,.

“The safety and security of Americans in hurricane-vulnerable states must be a top priority throughout this dangerous season, which is why I am urging all residents to prepare in advance for hurricane season,” Gov. Charlie Crist said in a statement. “The time to prepare for hurricane season is now, and every family, business, school and community should feel an urgency to get ready.”

The climate prediction center said factors pointing to a less active season include the decrease in the El Niño effect, which results from warming tropical waters in the Eastern Pacific.

“La Niña ( a cooling of those waters) is becoming increasingly likely, which further raises the chance of a below-normal season for the Eastern Pacific region,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

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