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Weather experts gather for hurricane workshop

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TWC News: Weather experts gather for hurricane workshop
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GREENVILLE — Emergency managers, forecasters and academics gathered at East Carolina University for the 2011 North Carolina Emergency Management Hurricane Workshop.

Wednesday's workshop was about preparing for the upcoming hurricane season. Warren Lee, Director of New Hanover County Emergency Management, said the workshop is the place to be to discover available tools for decision makers.

"It's just a good opportunity to meet with the scientists and the ones who are making the predictions and learn a little bit more about what they're doing for the coming season," said Lee.

According to Michael Sprayberry, department director of the N.C. Emergency Management the training will enable people to determine what type of storm surge they may have, how many feet of rain they will receive, or how many feet of river flooding is possible.

Dr. Tom Allen, geography professor at ECU, said some storm surge tools being developed at the university are being used to identify the most at risk areas during a hurricane.

"We believe it will give people an idea of the extent of flooding, the severity of flooding and encourage people to perceive that risk in a stronger way and to evacuate when called upon," said Allen.

Forecasters using these tools will give emergency managers the best possible information to make decisions.

Jeff Orrock from the National Weather Service uses last year's Hurricane Earl as a prime example.

"We had a Category 4 hurricane moving directly for Wilmington. It was going to be off the North Carolina coast in 24 hours. We didn't evacuate Wilmington because the forecast confidence was such that we were pretty sure the storm was going to recurve and just graze the outer banks," said Orrock.

Organizers say this workshop is very timely because hurricane season begins on June 1.

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