SILVER SPRING, Md. (6/1/10)--Credit unions in hurricane states are dusting off their business continuity and disaster recovery plans for what could be one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record. Hurricane season begins today and ends Nov. 30. The past two years have been easier on the U.S. coast--no major hurricanes hit U.S. land last year. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is projecting a 70% chance of 14 to 23 named storms this season, with eight to 14 growing into hurricanes. Three to seven of those hurricanes could be major, said NOAA (The Wall Street Journal May 28). The seasonal average is 11 named storms and six hurricanes with two of them major. In the higher numbers range, the forecast is closer to that of 2005, when Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. That year there were 28 named storms, with 15 hurricanes--seven of them major. NOAA cited two conditions that are hurricane friendly--a rapid warming of water in the Gulf of Mexico and the weakening of the El Nino system, when warm surface ocean waters in the Pacific produce wind shears in the Atlantic that hamper storm development. Last week was Hurricane Preparedness Week. At least two Gulf Coast credit union leagues that have seen their credit unions bear the brunt of past hurricanes are urging credit unions to be prepared. The Louisiana Credit Union League is posting information on its website containing a financial checklist, an emergency contact list for the credit union, a hurricane tracking map, and other tools that can be used in a disaster (E-Weekly May 26). The Texas Credit Union League also reported NOAA's projections in its newsletter (LoneStar Leaguer May 28). Nationally, the National Hurricane Center set up a special website to help people prepare for a hurricane. A hurricane is defined as a storm with winds of at least 74 mph. A major hurricane has winds of at least 111 mph. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA, noted that although the pattern is as good as any in the past 10 to 15 years, there can be a wide range of outcomes. The more active the season, the more likelihood that a hurricane will strike land, he said. "Given this outlook, people need to start preparing for hurricane season now."