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Hillsborough County Gears Up for Hurricane Season

May 24, 2013

The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration has released their predictions for the upcoming hurricane season.  They say 2013 will most likely be an above average hurricane season with a possible 20 named storms.

Hurricane Katrina over Florida in 2008.
Credit NASA Goddard Photo and Videos

To get ready, Hillsborough County Emergency Management officials held a pre-hurricane media day Friday to explain changes to the county's emergency management plan.

This year you find out about an approaching storm through Twitter or Facebook updates. The county will rely more than ever on social media to get information out about resources and evacuation plans.

"We have updated our plans that focus on the ways that we operate. As you go through any operation and you have lessons learned from disasters you find ways to do that better," said Preston Cook, the county's emergency management director.

"Some of that includes internal stuff, the way that we share information amongst our team. But we have also enhanced security at facilities, those types of things," Cook said. "We have enhanced technology, to ensure that we can share that information quickly, easily, more effectively."

Preston says the county has created a social media committee, in charge of updating and releasing information via outlets like Twitter or Facebook. 

The event also included officials from Tampa Bay's National Weather Service. They say residents need to be prepared, and not just for strong winds and heavy rain.

"Following the hurricane seasons that brought us Katrina, Ike, Isaac and even Sandy last year, we are looking at storm surge as really one of the more critical elements that we need to warn people about," said meteorologist Brain LeMarre.

He says the Tampa National Weather Service  is testing a storm surge warning that could become official by 2015.  Its goal is to give residents more accurate information regarding possible storm surge threats.

To find more information on how to prepare your family for hurricane season, visit hillsboroughcounty.org/emergency.