Alabama Weather: Active Hurricane Season on the Horizon

Satellite image of hurricane moving through Gulf of Mexico. Photo: NOAA

This year’s hurricane season appears to be developing into an active one. Now, only three days from the official beginning of hurricane season (June 1), three storms have already been named. Two named storms developed before June 1 while a third earned the name Cristobal on Tuesday.

Forecaster Predictions for 2020

For the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting 13 to 19 named storms. According to the center, six to 10 of these storms could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher). This prediction includes that as many as six major hurricanes (category three, four or five with winds of 111 mph or higher) could develop.

As a comparison, the average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, with six of those becoming hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

Why Such an Active Season?

According to NOAA, El Nino conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina. That means there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Other factors that increase the likelihood of an active season include

  • warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea
  • reduced vertical wind shear
  • weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds
  • enhanced west-African monsoon season

In recent years, 2017 was the most active year with 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes. Three category four storms struck the U.S. that year.

Prepare Now

“The best way to protect your home and family is by preparing ahead of time,” said Gary Lemme, director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “Plan and prepare now.  Waiting until a storm is headed toward Alabama is the absolute worst thing you can do.”

Plan

  • Create emergency plans.
  • Find multiple evacuation routes.
  • Establish a meeting place away from home.

Prepare

  • Take a first aid class.
  • Practice evacuating your home.
  • Store emergency contacts in phones and list on paper.
  • Build emergency kits for home, car and work.

COVID-19

People need to make sure their emergency kits include items to reduce exposure to COVID-19. If individuals must evacuate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that they bring items that can help protect themselves and others in the shelter from COVID-19. These items might include hand sanitizer, cleaning materials and two cloth face coverings per person.




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