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Tropical Storm Arthur may be season’s first hurricane

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The Fourth of July holiday weekend is almost here. Everyone is thinking about cookouts and picnics, friends and families, and … a possible hurricane. Tropical Storm Arthur is currently off the coast of Florida, spinning and building momentum. It is expected to become the first hurricane of the 2014 season as early as tomorrow.

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The National Weather Service (NWS) has already issued a hurricane watch for parts of North Carolina, including the popular vacation site of the Outer Banks. Tropical storm watches were issued for Florida’s Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, and Wilmington, NC.

As Tropical Storm Arthur makes her way north up the East Coast, millions will be affected by strong winds or heavy rains or flooding. Hurricane season reminds everyone of the threat of natural disasters and the need for disaster preparedness.

Locally, Arthur is not expected to hit Pennsylvania with any great intensity.

Preparing for hurricanes

Preparing for a hurricane is vital, especially for those directly in its path. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and numerous other preparedness agencies, suggest everyone make a family disaster plan before disaster strikes.

A family disaster plan should also include a communications plan. Take into consideration where your family members might be at different times of the day and how you would re-connect as a family. Include an out of area contact person as well. Program this person’s number into everyone’s phone. For example (and yes, on a personal note), my dad lives 20 miles southeast of us so he is our out of area contact. Every family member knows if something happens and we cannot reach each other that he would act as the centralized point of contact.

Secure your property. Now, before the brunt of the storm hits, is the time to board up windows if you are in the storm’s path. Bring in any outdoor furniture. Secure grills and other outside items. Power outages are quite possible. Install a generator in case it does go out. For more tips from FEMA, go to www.ready.gov/hurricanes.

Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to your local news for weather updates.

The local forecast

Locally, there is, according to the NWS, a slight risk for severe thunderstorms later today (Wednesday). There may be localized heavy rains, damaging wind, and large hail. Tomorrow and Friday we can expect afternoon and evening storms. Heavy rain and small hail are possible, as is cloud to ground lightening.

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