Will 2021 be an active hurricane season?
University’s hurricane prediction in line with report released by AccuWeather last month.
After everything that’s happened over the past tumultuous year, we may feel like we deserve a quiet hurricane season. But we’re unlikely to get one, according to a forecast released by Colorado State University.
The university, one of the centers for the study of violent tropical weather, the number of hurricane predicted this season is eight. Yes, you heard right. Eight hurricanes, with an above-average chance that a major hurricane will strike the United States.
The forecast calls for a total of 17 named storms, which means tropical storms or hurricane. So 17 is especially high considering the average is just 12 storms and 6.4 hurricanes. “We are forecasting a well-above-average hurricane season,” said Phil Klotzbach, research scientist for Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project.
Florida has a 75% chance of a hurricane coming within 50 miles, up from the seasonal average of 58%, according to the hurricane forecast. There’s a 41% chance of a major hurricane, up from the average of 28%. “We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” the forecast said.
The forecast cited two major reasons to expect a busy hurricane season. This year is unlikely to experience an El Niño, the warming of part of the Pacific Ocean that produces high-level winds over the Atlantic that can tear up storm systems before they can form a hurricane. Another factor is the expected above-average warmth of the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s not just simply because of the warmer water providing more fuel,” Klotzbach said. “It’s how it then changes the atmospheric circulation. You have lower pressures and a more unstable atmosphere, less wind shear — which all make the hurricane season likely to be more active.” The forecast, if it turns out to be accurate, would not be as bad as last year’s record-breaking season, which generated 30 named storms, including 13 hurricanes, which exhausted the list of hurricane names selected for that year.
The official start of hurricane season is June 1. But there’s discussion of moving the date into May, since there have been several pre-season storms in the past few years. Colorado State’s forecast is in line with a prediction released by AccuWeather, the private forecasting service, which said to expect seven to 10 hurricane, with three to five reaching major strength. Early hurricane season forecasts have varied in accuracy. Last year Colorado State’s April forecast called for eight hurricanes for a season that would produce 13. But the previous year, the April forecast was pretty close, predicting five for this hurricane season that would produce six. And the year before that, the prediction called for seven hurricanes, and the hurricane season produced eight.
So here’s some things you need to do to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season which begins on June 1st and runs until Nov 30th.
1. Prepare an evacuation plan.
“Run from the water, hide from the wind” is the adage when it comes to fleeing your home ahead of a hurricane. Willis says it’s all about knowing your vulnerabilities. Are you in a flood-prone area? Do you live in a place that has only limited access in and out — the Florida Keys, for instance? Will you have to navigate around potential hazards?
She says to pay attention to weather forecasters and heed the advice from local emergency officials when they recommend an evacuation. Give yourself plenty of time to get out when the time comes, and map your route ahead of time, plotting alternatives. Leave time to properly secure your house and any outside items that might become dangerous projectiles in a storm, such as patio furniture or potted plants. Make a plan about where to go. “The ideal plan would be to go to family and friends,” says Willis. Public shelters should be your last option. “Shelters are a life raft,” Willis says. “They’re not a cruise ship.” If you do go to a shelter, know what you can and can’t bring along with you. For instance, most shelters won’t accept animals, so find a pet-friendly option if you’re evacuating with family pets.
She says it’s also smart to have a family communication plan in case you get separated and can’t reach one another. “You know, calling Aunt Mabel,” Willis says. “And telling her that, ‘Hey, I made it to a safe location. And I just want you to know that our carload is fine. Have you heard from the others?’ “
2. Have a go-kit ready.
“Anything that would be deemed critical not only for survival but your everyday usage,” says Willis, of what to put in a go-kit.
Some of her recommendations of what to include:
- nonperishable food and water to last a week
- a full tank of gas if you are evacuating in a personal vehicle
- spare car keys
- cash, “because banks and ATMs may not be available after the storm has passed”
- a two-week supply of medications and medical supplies you use, such as insulin and needles
- cell phones, chargers and spare batteries
- hygiene items such as soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper, feminine products, face masks, first-aid kit, baby wipes, diapers or other supplies for children
- battery-operated emergency radio, flashlight and rain gear
- important household papers: identification, bank numbers, credit card information, insurance policies, a list of important phone numbers and documents to prove homeownership or lease agreement
3. Use a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything in the stress of the moment.
Download the Emergency Preparedness Checklist HERE.
4. If your resources are tight, be creative and seek help now to be ready.
“I’ve always encouraged the proper mentality, which is that mindset of perpetual preparedness,” Willis says. You can do it on a budget by using what you have and tapping community resources. “Everyone doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to purchase preparedness.”
Collect used soda or juice bottles, clean them out with a bleach solution, rinse them and then use them to stockpile water. Secure nonperishable goods from a local food bank. Willis says it’s especially important for people with disabilities or chronic medical needs to make sure local responders know they may need assistance in an evacuation. The same goes for people who don’t have reliable transportation — register ahead of time with your local government to let authorities know you will need a ride out.
“This is a result, in large part, because of what we saw with Hurricane Katrina,” Willis says. “Where many people wanted to evacuate, they wanted to leave in advance, but they had no access to transportation.”
5. Take the threat seriously.
Willis says the threat of a natural disaster is significant with climate change. “Storms have become much more powerful,” she says. “They are moving at a more rapid rate. So think about that. The storms are becoming larger. They’re costing more. They’re creating more, more damage. So it costs more to recover from them, and they’re becoming much more frequent.”
She says now the ability of emergency responders to cope with disaster is strained because of the coronavirus pandemic. Shelters have had to modify staffing and capacity, for instance. Willis says it changes “every aspect” of disaster preparedness and response.
So here’s the hurricane forecast for this year. It is indeed a busy hurricane season for us. I hope this information is helpful. Always keep in mind, being prepared for the unexpected is very important.