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First hurricane-season forecasts rattle boaters

With the release of several early seasonal hurricane forecasts for this year, boaters and marina operators are finding out they could face a much different scenario than last year's relatively mild storm season.

Accuweather, a nationwide weather service, recently reported it expects 2010 to be an "extreme season" with as many as 18 named storms, a 100 percent increase over 2009.

BoatU.S., a national boat owners group with experience in hurricane preparation and post-hurricane recovery efforts, says most boaters and marinas can survive by being better prepared. To help with this task, the association has some free online tools available at the BoatU.S. "Hurricane Resource Center."

The Web site offers easily downloadable storm planning materials including a hurricane preparation worksheet, an in-depth "Guide to Preparing Boats and Marinas for Hurricanes," and checklists for what to do before and after a hurricane strikes. Sample hurricane plans for boat and yacht clubs as well as up-to-the-minute storm tracking tools with live satellite images are also online.