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If you can believe the weather experts, the forecast is for lower-than normal tropical activity during this Atlantic hurricane season, which officially began on Monday, June 1. The reason for the lower activity, according to Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist with the Weather Services International (WSI), is a cool Atlantic, in combination with a potent El Niño. Crawford maintains that the combination of cooler Atlantic waters and robust El Niño will act to suppress the development of tropical activity, hence, the WSI’s tropical forecast for the 2015 season predicts nine named storms, (including the recent Tropical Storm Ana), five hurricanes, and one major hurricane. Crawford’s prediction of a relatively quiet tropical storm season derives from his assessment of dynamical models and WSI’s proprietary statistical models. “Aggregate Atlantic basin sea surface temperatures are rather cool again this year, relative to the recent tropically-active 20-year period, “Dr, Crawford said. “Additionally, a rather robust El Nino event is expected to continue to evolve over the next few months. Both of these factors are rather bearish for tropical activity across the North Atlantic basin for the upcoming tropical season. We currently expect a season similar to the relatively quiet seasons of 2009 and 2014.” El Niño (meaning “The Child” in Spanish) is defined as an irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes that affect the equatorial Pacific region and beyond every few years. It is characterized by the appearance of unusually warm, nutrient-poor water off northern Peru and Ecuador, typically in late December. The WSI describes itself as serving some of the world's biggest brands in the aviation, energy, insurance, and media markets, as well as federal and state government agencies. The organization is part of The Weather Company, which focuses entirely on the weather and delivers billions of discrete forecasts daily around the world through a media portfolio that includes The Weather Channel®, weather.com®, WSI and Weather Underground. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises hurricane and tropical storm preparedness. That means that families and businesses should write up or update communication plans, make kits of essential items, and review insurance policies, among other things. FEMA advises that the preparedness kit should contain such items as bottled water, non-perishable food, a can opener, spare batteries and specialty items such as medical prescriptions, spare eyeglasses and pet food. The agency encourages property owners to review their insurance policies, particularly their flood coverage, as floods are the most common and costly natural disasters in the United States and occur inland as well as on the coast. To better learn how to prepare for the hurricane season, visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes or www.m.fema.gov. See the American Red Cross Inserts inside today’s paper.