If you don’t already know how to, it’s about time you learned how to batten down the hatches.

The National Hurricane Center and several college meteorology departments are calling for an extremely busy and potentially bad Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Worse, in fact, than anything that’s been around the past few years.

Seasons that run from the start of June through the end of November have averaged 14 named tropical storms a year.

But some agencies this year are calling for as many as 30.

The culprit is an eastern Pacific Ocean system called El Niño or La Niña.

The NHC is expecting El Niño to die off and go neutral during the peak or the season around August and that means lower wind shears that disrupt the formation of cyclones in the Atlantic basin.

Couple that with much warmer than average water temperatures in the same region and what you’re left with is the potential for things to get more than a little nasty.

Add in something many people refuse to acknowledge – that the mid-Atlantic is way overdue for a brutal storm – and you’ve got all the elements needed for something that could be disastrous.

The Colorado State University meteorology department earlier this year issued its forecast, calling for 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes and five major Category 3 cyclones that will be of 115 miles per hour or more.

The University of Missouri is calling for 26, 11 and five.

The NHC – the authority on the subject – is predicting 20 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major storms.

Everybody’s forecasts will change as the late-season peak gets closer, but that shouldn’t hold boaters back from being prepared.

First and foremost for everyone – especially boaters – is preparedness.

Have a game plan in place and stick to it.

And don’t fool yourself – a big one is likely in the future and a direct hit by a major storm would devastate this area.

Part of the plan should include preparing you boat or storing it somewhere that might give you the best chance of still having a vessel. If that means moving it north, west or south, make a plan.

And the most important thing overall is to make sure you, your family and your pets are protected first before anything else.

If you’ve ever been in a bad tropical cyclone, you know how bad it can be.

But you’re better off escaping the entire thing and dealing with whatever after the fact than you are trying to “ride one out.”

Oh … by the way, the first named storm of the season with be Alberto.

And don’t be shocked if he shows up before you think.

To read more of my work, go to: leetolliveroutdoors.com