On Wednesday, August 9, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) updated its 2017 Atlantic hurricane season predictions. According to the new forecasts, there is a 60 percent chance that the season will be above-average, with 14-19 named storms and two to five major hurricanes. The NOAA said that it could be the most active season since 2010 and that peak season (August through October) has just started.
Eastern Pacific and North Atlantic hurricane seasons, which officially began on May 15 and June 1, respectively, run until the end of November. Powerful storms can strike throughout the region from both directions during this period, with the largest concentration of storms typically occurring between August and October. The north of the region - Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras - is must vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms, which tend to weaken the further south they track. However, remnants of storms can still bring destructive and often deadly torrential rain and winds to the southern half of the region, including Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. 2016’s Hurricane Otto was the first Atlantic hurricane to directly hit Costa Rica since authorities began keeping record in 1851, and the southernmost Atlantic hurricane to hit Central America.
Hurricanes and tropical storms - and subsequent flooding and landslides - have the potential to cause major damage, loss of life, widespread power outages, and travel disruptions, particularly in areas with subpar infrastructure and weak emergency response capacities. On May 31, 2008, Tropical Storm Arthur struck the coast of Belize, leaving eight people dead and dozens wounded.
Individuals present in the region are advised to stay abreast of information regarding storms via the US-based National Hurricane Center and/or local media. In the event of a storm, individuals present in areas forecast to be affected should stock up on enough food and water to last several days, follow all instructions issued by local authorities, and distance themselves from the coast and other bodies of water. If an evacuation order is given, leave immediately; otherwise, remain indoors until authorities have indicated that the storm has passed; wait for this declaration, keeping in mind that the "eye" of the storm is marked by calm, clear conditions but is followed by the most powerful and destructive part of the storm.
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