2012 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins today

TAMPA - While tropical storms Alberto and  Beryl gave us early wake up calls, today is the official start of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.  For the moment, all is quiet in the tropics.

U.S. government forecasters predict that this year's season would produce a normal number of about nine to 15 tropical storms, with as many as four to eight of those becoming hurricanes and of those three becoming major storms.

On Friday, the Colorado State University forecast team increased its prediction, calling for 13 named storms with five becoming hurricanes and two of those becoming major storms.

For the complete list of storm names for the 2012 season follow this link: http://bit.ly/KlmaoQ

Though this season isn't expected to be as busy as last year's above-average season, federal officials warned coastal residents to start stocking up on hurricane supplies and forming evacuation plans anyway.

"That's still a lot of activity.  So just because we're predicting a near normal season doesn't mean anybody's off the hook at all," said Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to make sure Americans are prepared for the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Napolitano will join Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate, as well as Florida Gov. Rick Scott to urge those likely to be affected by storms to prepare beforehand.

Officials kick off their public service campaign Friday at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.  The head of the National Hurricane Center Bill Read will also participate.

The center is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Its mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources.

Visit the abcactionnews.com Hurricane Center here: http://bit.ly/oNNdHy

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