This year's hurricane season will be here soon. The National Hurricane Center's (NHC) director, Ken Graham, shares what his team learned from 2020's record-breaking season, what changes are on the way, and how you and your family can get ready before you ever need to board up the windows.

What You Need To Know

  • This season will probably be more active than average

  • People should start preparing in the spring

  • Using the Greek alphabet caused confusion and distraction

  • The storm surge model got an upgrade that should give better surge forecasts

Check out meteorologist Justin Gehrts's full interview with Ken Graham in the video player above, or view the NHC director's individual answers below.

What the 2021 season may hold

Meteorologists expect this hurricane season to become more active than average. However, where storms end up matters – it only takes one hitting where you live to make it a bad season.

What you can do in the spring to prepare

Don't wait until a storm is coming. Use the time before the season starts to know what your threats are and what you'll do if a hurricane does approach, no matter if you live on the coast or farther inland.

Why no more Greek alphabet?

In both 2020 and 2005, the NHC ran out of names on its list and had to spill into the backup Greek alphabet. Unfortunately, the Greek alphabet caused confusion, which got in the way of people fully understanding the safety messages.

Going beyond just the meteorology

Social science research, including how people use information and why they make the decisions they do, is playing a bigger part in what the NHC says and does.

May 15 vs. June 1

The "official" start of the hurricane season is June 1, but the NHC will start issuing routine tropical advisories on May 15 this year. However, changing the start of the season to that same date isn't a simple decision.

Lessons learned in 2020

A pandemic on top of a record hurricane season obviously presented challenges. It put backup plans to the test, but they succeeded.

What's new in 2021

Graham is excited about the upgrade to the storm surge model, which should provide more accurate predictions of storm surge. Better forecasts will help with preparation and evacuation.