As if things weren’t bad enough with COVID-19 and civil unrest nationwide, the 2020 hurricane season is forecast to be a big one.
This, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which released its analysis last month. The hurricane season officially started Monday and runs through the end of November.
NOAA said there is a 60 percent chance for an above-normal number of storms over the coming six months. But the possibility remains that things won’t be so bad, or a 30 percent chance that there will be an average number of hurricanes and a 10 percent chance of a below-average season.
“As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement on May 21. “Just as in years past, NOAA experts will stay ahead of developing hurricanes and tropical storms and provide the forecasts and warnings we depend on to stay safe.”
NOAA pointed to the lack of El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic as a recipe for increased hurricane activity.
The administration also advised that hurricane preparedness remains “critically important” this season, especially in light of the current COVID-19 health emergency. NOAA said that citizens may need to adjust any preparedness based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as local officials.
“Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Natural disasters won’t wait, so I encourage you to keep COVID-19 in mind when revising or making your plan for you and your loved ones, and don’t forget your pets.”
He added that a FEMA app provides real-time weather alerts from the National Weather Service, emergency safety tips for hurricanes and 20 other types of natural disasters (including earthquakes, fires and tornadoes), and the location of emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers.
The National Hurricane Center’s website at hurricanes.gov throughout the season to stay current on any provides updates on watches and warnings throughout the season.
The 18 named storms in 2019 tied for the fourth most active hurricane season since records began. Last year was the fourth consecutive year with above-average activity. In total, the tropical cyclones killed 116 people died and caused $11.62 billion in damage.
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