SARASOTA - You'll be forgiven if the 2020 hurricane season sneaked up on you because of all the coronavirus news. But it didn't sneak up on the National Hurricane Center, who takes the first week of May every year to remind people to prepare now.

For many of you, being told to prepare - as important as it is - is said to you frequently. It goes in one ear and out the other. But with a potential second coronavirus wave this fall, it's doubly important to get ready now according to lead forecaster at NWS Ruskin, John McMichael.

"If we do have a hurricane bearing down on us, we're gonna have all these restrictions to follow as well," McMichael says. Fewer people would be allowed in stores should those restrictions return, making preparation more difficult.

In addition to that, current forecasts and outlooks show a more active season this year. You have the Bermuda High set up, producing fewer clouds. And we're expecting less Saharan Dust to come off Africa, dust that would otherwise prevent clouds from forming and prevent moisture from rising to higher levels of the atmosphere.

"All of those together will allow the ocean to heat to a deep enough layer where we will get warmer sea surface temperatures and a possibility of stronger storms developing," McMichael says.

Hurricane kits include insurance papers, medical supplies, batteries and flashlights. Also, know your evacuation route if you live on the coast.

"We don't want you to be dawdling around at the last minute trying to get out because they will close bridges down and you'll be stuck," McMichael says.

And as we say every year: when preparing for a storm, don't forget about your pets. Have a pet emergency kit ready, and that emergency kit will look a lot like yours.

Make sure you know which shelter nearby allows pets, and have vet records handy or else you could get turned away.

Our tropics page has all this information and more, including our hurricane special from last year, It Only Takes One. Click here to access it, and be sure to bookmark the page as we regularly post tropical updates during our hurricane season.