PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Monday, June 1 marked the official start of hurricane season and this year is expected to be an active one.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says we could have more than a dozen named storms this season with three to six of them being a category three or higher.
"There are three things people need to know every hurricane season. They need to know their risk, make a plan, and stay informed. And staying informed is going to be extra important this year," said Cathie Perkins, Pinellas County Emergency Management Director
A big issue Tampa Bay area leaders are focusing on this season is opening more shelters while practicing social distancing.
"If you look at the number of shelters we open up, even for a Category 1 storm, we do need to increase that to give some social distancing," said Perkins.
Leaders say it’s likely many shelters will open at once and people using them will be required to wear masks and use hand sanitizer. But shelters should be your last option.
"We always encourage people to make of plan of staying with friends and family so if you have a place to go, use that plan fist," said Perkins.
They say people can prepare by getting supplies ahead of time and not facing empty shelves when the storm is on its way.
Right now all batteries, flashlights, coolers, tarps, and generators are tax-free until Thursday, June 4.
"But we really want people to understand, it’s not the number of storms, it's the one that impacts your area," said Perkins.
To see the state of Florida's 2020 Hurricane Preparedness Guide click here.