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Chief US hurricane forecaster: Education key to storm prep

Ken Graham, the new Director of the National Hurricane Center, speaks during an interview, Thursday, May 17, 2018, at the Governor's Hurricane Conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The new U.S. National Hurricane Center director says learning about specific storm hazards is key to preparing for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season.

Ken Graham leads the U.S. government’s hurricane forecasting hub in Miami. At Florida’s annual state hurricane conference Thursday, Graham said teaching storm science to the public helps improve individual and governmental responses to approaching storms.

Graham said understanding how changes in a hurricane’s track, size or intensity can alter conditions on the ground is more important than focusing on the five-category scale that ranks hurricane wind speeds.

In recent years, the hurricane center’s advisories have focused on educating coastal residents about flood risks and setting deadlines for completing storm preparations.

Hurricane season begins June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases its hurricane season forecast next week.

Graham told The Associated Press that the most frequent question he gets is, “What’s the season going to be like?” His answer: “Whether there’s a busy season with a lot of hurricanes, or there’s one hurricane on Earth, if it comes to Florida, then it’s a busy season.”

“We have to be prepared every single year as if we’re going to get hit,” Graham said. “2017 may not happen again for a long time, or it may happen again this year.”

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