It’s time to prepare for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season

It’s time for residents of the southeast coast of the United States to make sure they are prepared for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season that begins Thursday.

Forecasters are forecasting a “nearly normal” season, but Mike Brennan, director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), stressed at a news conference Wednesday that nothing is truly normal when it comes to hurricanes.

“A normal season might sound good when compared to some hurricane seasons in recent years,” he said. “But there’s nothing good about a near-normal hurricane season in terms of activity.”

WILL THE 2023 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON BE INTENSE?

Uncertainty is the key word, Brennan said.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast in late May that there was a 40% chance that the 2023 hurricane season would be near normal, 30% that it would be more active than expected. normal —that is, more storms than usual— and 30% below normal.

“So we anticipate an intense season with 12 to 17 named storms,” Brennan said, adding that five to nine of those could become hurricanes, and of those, one to four could be Category 3 or higher. .

“It is enough for a single storm to hit where you live for it to become an intense season,” he said.

WHAT’S NEW THIS SEASON?

For this year, the NHC developed a new storm surge model that, according to Brennan, “helps forecast storm surge 72 hours in advance of the storm’s arrival,” allowing life-saving information to be transmitted to emergency authorities. and to issue evacuation orders.

In addition, tropical weather forecasts have been extended from five to seven days, giving residents “an added advantage” in making decisions about whether to evacuate their homes in advance of a storm, Brennan said.

WHAT IS THE CHILD? HOW WILL IT AFFECT THE SEASON?

El Niño is a temporary weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that occurs every certain number of years and changes weather patterns globally.

In general, the Atlantic is calmer and registers fewer storms when it coincides with El Niño. This is because warmer El Niño waters push warmer air over the Pacific higher into the atmosphere and affect wind shear that could deflect storms.

Brennan stressed that there are other factors that increase uncertainty about the effects of El Niño, such as very warm sea surface temperatures, weaker low-level easterly wind flows, and a more active African monsoon season.

“So these forces will play out over the course of this hurricane season,” Brennan said. “We don’t know how the season will unfold.”

WHAT ROLE DOES FEMA PLAY?

Federal Disaster Management Agency (FEMA) Director Deanne Criswell said her agency works to protect residents in hurricane-affected areas by providing them with the “critical information they need” and making it easier for people to seek assistance.

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He said that during the boreal summer not only the hurricane season begins, but also that of forest fires.

“We are in the summer season of severe weather events, but I think as you all know, it is not just a summer season of severe weather anymore” and weather related events occur all year round, he stressed.

WHY DO HURRICANES HAVE NAMES?

Hurricanes are named primarily to eliminate confusion in the event that two or more storm systems occur at the same time.

The United States began using feminine names for storms in 1953 and alternated with masculine names beginning in 1978.

There is a list of names for the Atlantic hurricane season that rotates every six years. The list can be repeated later and some names are removed from the rotation, according to the NHC website.

The names for the 2023 Atlantic hurricanes are: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney.

A hurricane’s name is routinely retired if the storm caused so much death and destruction that it would be inappropriate to use it again. However, it is not up to the NHC to withdraw a name. That is up to the international committee of the World Meteorological Organization, which selects another name to replace the one that was withdrawn.

Among the most recent names to be retired is Ian, which struck southwestern Florida as a Category 5 hurricane in September 2022 with very strong winds and a storm surge reaching 15 feet (4.5 meters). Ian killed 156 people in the United States, the majority in Florida, according to a NOAA report on the hurricane.

Other retired names have been Katrina, Harvey, Charley, Wilma, Matthew, Michael, and Irma.

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE WORST HURRICANES IN THE US?

In August 1992, the powerful Hurricane Andrew struck south of Miami, crossed Florida and made a second landfall in Louisiana. For years it was the costliest and most devastating hurricane to hit US coastlines, killing some 65 and causing more than $27.3 billion in damage at the time. The Category 5 storm destroyed more than 65,000 homes.

Hurricane Katrina, which struck the New Orleans area as a Category 3 storm in August 2005, still stands as one of the most devastating in the United States. Katrina left more than 1,200 dead and catastrophic damage on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Hurricane Harvey struck Louisiana before hitting Houston as a Category 4 storm in 2017. Harvey caused severe flooding and killed more than 80 people, including 50 in the greater Houston area.

According to NOAA, Katrina and Harvey are listed as the costliest hurricanes to hit the country, with damages of more than $160 billion and $125 billion, respectively.

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