Alabama hurricane preparedness

Emergency planners and other officials from Alabama and Mississippi will be meeting in Mobile next week for a two-state conference on hurricane preparedness in the area.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency are hosting the Central Gulf Coast Hurricane Conference starting Tuesday. The conference will give groups such as volunteer organizations and faith-based groups to discuss hurricane response plans with government response agencies.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner say state agencies are participating in an exercise to help state workers and law enforcement agencies prepare to respond to hurricanes.

Bentley and Faulkner said at a news conference in Montgomery Wednesday that the state conducts similar exercises every year, but one purpose this year is to make sure workers have not become complacent because there has not been a major hurricane in the last year or so.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

National Weather Service

Officials are warning people to stay out of the surf along Alabama's coast because of dangerous conditions ahead of tropical storm Karen.

Safety officials are flying double red flags at Gulf Shores because of treacherous rip currents, and they say conditions will only get worse through the day on Thursday.

Alabama's two coastal counties and nearly the entire northern Gulf Coast are under a hurricane watch. The latest forecast track shows the storm could come ashore in Alabama late Saturday or early Sunday.

Alabama's Emergency Management Agency plans to conduct an exercise to practice how the state would respond if a Category 3 hurricane were to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

   EMA officials said they would work with other state agencies and private groups to simulate the state's response to a hurricane.

   For the purpose of the exercise, the simulated storm will be called Hurricane Juliet. EMA officials said more than 170 people would participate in the exercise, which will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the EMA headquarters in Clanton.