Here’s one of the big challenges with long-range weather forecasting. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the events of one year are an anomaly or part of a trend.
For example, last year’s hurricane season was one for the record books. There were 30 named storms. Twelve is considered normal. Fourteen of those storms developed into hurricanes. And of those, six became major (Category 3 or higher) hurricanes.
On the one hand, it seems unlikely we’ll experience anything that bad again in 2021. On the other hand, the trend in recent years is going in the direction of both more – and more intense – hurricanes.
Other closely-watched factors are atmospheric conditions and ocean temperatures. They’re leading AccuWeather to forecast 16 to 20 named storms for the 2021 hurricane season. They predict 7 to 10 hurricanes, with 3 to 5 becoming major.
Active Hurricane Season Expected
All this is to say we don’t know whether the 2021 hurricane season (June 1-November 30) will be as deadly and destructive as last year’s was.
But here’s what we do know. Weather experts are predicting another rough hurricane season.
And even if 2021 does not prove to be quite as bad as 2020, we could experience plenty of carnage.
And that means the inevitability of deaths and injuries. Plus destruction to homes and businesses. As well as flooding and power outages.
Early Start Doesn’t Bode Well
Hurricane Preparation Week begins today. And not a moment too soon. In fact,
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering a change. They might move the Atlantic hurricane season start day to May 15 for future years.
That’s because named storms have been forming prior to the start of June for each of the past six years. Seven tropical storms have formed between May 15 and June 1 the past nine Atlantic hurricane seasons.
And last year, the National Hurricane Center released 36 tropical weather outlooks prior to June 1.
Residents and businesses in hurricane-prone areas are encouraged to prepare ASAP.
2020 Hurricane Season Called ‘Relentless’
In a moment we’ll get into how we can prepare for these incredibly powerful and destructive storms. First let’s take a quick look at what occurred last year.
NOAA had predicted 13 to 19 named storms. Of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes, with 3 to 6 major hurricanes. Those seemingly high predictions turned out to be too low.
There were so many storms, the World Meteorological Organization ran through its list of 21 prepared names. They then moved to Greek letter names. Because names like Zeta, Eta and Theta sound similar, they’re doing away with them this year.
Neil Jacobs is the acting NOAA administrator. He called last year’s hurricane season “relentless.” He added this. “The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season ramped up quickly and broke records across the board.”
Laura & Sally Roar In
Hurricane Laura tied the all-time record for strongest hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana. The Category 4 storm landed in Cameron, Louisiana on August 27, 2020. It caused more than two dozen deaths and approximately $10 billion in damages.
More than 615,000 people lost electrical power in Louisiana. The storm featured winds of up to 150 miles per hour. John Bel Edwards is the governor of Louisiana. He said the storm “left a long trail of catastrophic devastation.”
Three weeks later, Hurricane Sally became the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since 2004. The Category 2 storm had a sustained wind speed of 105 mph.
More than 20 inches of rain fell and several tornadoes were spawned. Over 500,000 customers lost power in four states. Damage totals were estimated to be at least $8 billion. Power lines and trees were downed in numerous places.
Delta, Hanna & Isaias Wreak Havoc
On October 9, Hurricane Delta became the 10th named storm to strike the U.S. and the third Category 4 storm in 2020. It was the strongest Greek alphabet-named storm on record.
Delta made landfall in Louisiana, as did three other named storms. This hurricane killed six people and caused extensive damage.
Prior to Delta, two Category 1 hurricanes made landfall in America. The first hurricane of the season, Hanna, made landfall in Texas in late July. Five people died from this storm, which caused $875 million in damages.
Hurricane Isaias was the ninth named storm of the season. It made landfall in North Carolina on August 4. Isaias spawned a tornado outbreak on its way to causing extensive property damage.
Preparedness Week Advice
Ready.gov offers plenty of advice for National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Including understanding the risk for a hurricane in your area. And knowing your evacuation zone.
They suggest learning how to recognize extreme weather warnings and alerts. And reviewing important documents such as insurance policies.
The site also provides advice for strengthening your home against a hurricane. Including de-cluttering drains and gutters, bringing in outside furniture, and installing hurricane shutters.
Another important component of hurricane preparedness is gathering plenty of supplies in advance. That includes food and water, medications, disinfectant supplies, and a fully-stocked bug-out bag.
Generator Safety Is Crucial
The one thing everyone can count on when it comes to hurricanes is power outages. They happen every time. And as we’ve seen far too many times, they can be more than an inconvenience.
Here’s a grim headline from an NPR website article. “Majority of Hurricane Laura Deaths Linked to Improper Use of Portable Generators.” Those poor folks died of carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s after some failed to heed gas-powered generator warnings.
That’s one of the reasons I recommend the solar-powered Patriot Power Generator 1800. It’s both safe and reliable. Because it’s fume-free, it’s safe for indoor use. And it’s so quiet, you could run it next to your bed while you sleep.
And yet it can power up the things you need most in an emergency. Including lights, your refrigerator and freezer, medical devices, and phones.