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Hurricane Season Officially Starts Thursday, Forecasters Call For Above-Average Activity

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Hurricane season officially starts Thursday, and authorities across the Tri-State Area want people to be prepared.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. Two to four hurricanes are expected to be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

"The most dangerous part of a storm is not the wind, it's not the rain. It's the flooding and the storm surge that occurs afterwards," acting NOAA administrator Ben Friedman said.

Forecasters expect warmer-than-average waters across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker-than-average wind shear and a weak or nonexistent El Nino, said Friedman.

El Nino is the natural warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean that changes weather worldwide and tends to reduce hurricane activity in the Atlantic. Warm waters feed a hurricane's strength, while strong wind shear can starve it and pull a storm apart. 

The long-term season averages are 12 named storms, with six hurricanes and three major ones. Tropical storms have sustained winds of at least 39 mph (63 kph), and hurricanes have winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph).

Officials urged coastal residents to make evacuation plans and stock up on emergency supplies long before any tropical weather advisory is posted.

"The Red Cross urges everyone to build and emergency kit, including supplies for your entire family to last at least three days, including medications, important documents and any special items for children, the elderly or your pets," CEO of the Long Island Red Cross Nella Lockel said.

Ask residents who live near the water and they will tell you how they lost nearly everything after Superstorm Sandy, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports.

"We encourage everyone to create an evacuation plan for yourself and your family," Lockel said.

The six-month Atlantic storm season officially starts June 1 and lasts until November 30..

A rare April tropical storm formed this year over the open ocean: Arlene, which was no threat to land. The next tropical storm will be named Bret.

The 2016 hurricane season also started early with a January hurricane. It was the first above-normal season since 2012, with 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

Five storms made landfall in the U.S. last year, including hurricanes Hermine and Matthew.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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