This year’s hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs until November 30, but early two early season outlooks — from Colorado State University and from AccuWeather — seem to disagree on their forecasts. Forecasters at AccuWeather are predicting an above average season with 12-14 named storms, while researchers at CSU predict a slightly below average season.

Jeff Huffman, WUFT meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, said it’s best to not focus on the predictions.

“It only takes one storm to have an impact on your life,” Huffman said.

We had the chance to sit down with Huffman and ask him what Floridians should expect this season and the best ways to prepare.  Watch our video interview, or read below.

What is the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network?

Huffman: WUFT is the home of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. It’s a service to all public media stations in the state of Florida for severe or significant weather, including tropical storms and hurricanes. So we are on the air in 11 media markets and more than 20 stations across Florida.

What should I expect this hurricane season?

Huffman: We’re coming off of two very active hurricane seasons in a row as it relates to impacts to the U.S. So there’s an extra level of sensitivity by many people. Many people are going to want to hope that the season will be less active than normal but we caution that if forecasts come out to be that, we caution that it only takes one storm to impact you for it to feel like a very active season and of course to disrupt your life.

So remember that hurricane seasonal forecasts, while we all want to know what they are and we all want to hope that they’re going to be low numbers, it really doesn’t matter. There are many many seasons with low activity in the Atlantic, but catastrophic impacts to the United States.It’s impossible to tell you at this stage in the game whether a storm could impact you, so just know that going into the hurricane season.

What factors contribute to the intensity of a hurricane season?

Huffman: There are several factors. The biggest contributor to whether a season is active or inactive is the El Niño cycle, which is the periodic warming of the waters — or cooling, conversely— of the central and eastern Pacific waters. That happens regularly. It’s not something that’s a new phenomenon. It’s just one of the most studied phenomena  and it has the strongest correlation to Atlantic Basin activity in the following hurricane season. Other factors such as the water temperatures, how much moisture is in the atmosphere, the salinity of the water, contribute to whether a season is active or inactive.

What can I do to make sure I’m prepared?

Huffman: The number one thing you can do right now is to know if you’re in an evacuation zone. That’s one of the most difficult things to figure out if you’ve never done it before. (Luckily, the folks at Florida Disaster have made it easy:  And we have new Floridians move here every year by the hundreds of thousands. So, know what kind of zone you’re in. And by the way, these evacuation zones extend far inland in some cases into rivers and tributaries. Know which zone you’re in so that if you’re told to evacuate, you know that you need to evacuate.

The second thing you can start doing now is thinking about a plan. Stock up on supplies. Don’t wait until a few days out. We know the shelves will go dry. Stock up on the supplies. You should have at least three days of anything you need — food, water, medicine, batteries, flashlights. You don’t have to wait until a storm is bearing down on you.

I live inland. Should I be worried?

Huffman: The old saying is hide from the wind, run from the water. Storm surge is of course the most significant and the most life threatening impact from hurricanes. But, what do we think of when we think of hurricanes? If you closed your eyes right now, what would you think of? It’s wind, right? You see the palm trees swaying, the roofs coming off. We measure hurricanes by the wind speeds. So there’s a fundamental difference between how we measure hurricanes as far as the science is concerned versus the impacts to life and property. Storm surge is the most significant. But water is also very powerful inland.

So, it’s not just a coastal problem. Hurricanes bring storm surge to the coast, wind at the coast and both of those hazards can also translate inland.