All Weather News

2022 Hurricane Prep Week

20 May 2022, 1:35 pm

After a memorable 2021 Hurricane Season with 21 named storms and the historic Category 4 Hurricane Ida, we are looking ahead to the 2022 season. Hurricane season begins on May 15 for the Eastern Pacific Basin, and on June 1 for the Atlantic basin. WeatherNation will be recognizing “Hurricane Preparedness Week” from May 15-21. We’ll help you get your plan together, understand the science behind tropical systems, and much more so you can be prepared this hurricane season.

Whether you live on the coastline or inland, it is important to know your risks when it comes to tropical systems.  Coastal communities are most at risk of destructive winds, dangerous storm surge, and are more likely to have to evacuate. Communities even hundreds of miles away from coastlines are still at risk, with the threat of high winds, flooding rainfall, severe weather & tornadoes, and the longer-lasting threat of flooding and power outages that could occur days or weeks after a storm hits.

KNOW YOUR RISKS

WHAT’S THE FORECAST THIS SEASON?

Researched from the Colorado State University have issued their 2022 Season Outlook for Atlantic Basin. Early predictions expect this year’s hurricane season to be busier than average. This year they anticipate 19 named storms, 9 of which will become hurricanes and 4 of those are expected to become major hurricanes (CAT 3 or greater).

The above average season is attributed to a lack of El Niño conditions. El Niño means would mean warmer-than-normal water in the central and eastern [tropical] Pacific Ocean. That tends to create more wind shear to tear apart hurricanes in the Atlantic. Because El Niño is not expected to limit development, more hurricanes may form.

While seasonal outlooks give us some idea of what to expect, there is no way to know for certain just what the season will have in store for YOUR area.  Seasonal outlooks cannot forecast exactly when, where, or if storm will strike. Remember, it only takes *one* to impact your area to become a “bad season”.  So, it’s important to prepare before a storm threatens.

LIVE INLAND? YOU AREN’T IMMUNE TO HURRICANES!

Even if you live nowhere near a coastline, impacts from tropical systems can still occur. In the 2021 season, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm. However, the deadliest impacts where felt days later in the Northeast after 6-10″ of rain fell over the NYC/NJ metro area. Inland rain and water are the deadliest parts of Tropical Storms and the impacts can spread far away from the immediate coastline.

UNDERSTANDING STORM SURGE

Along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.  Storm surge has come along with some of the most powerful storms in history.

Surge Vulnerability Facts (source: NHC)

  • From 1990-2008, population density increased by 32% in Gulf coastal counties, 17% in Atlantic coastal counties, and 16% in Hawaii (U.S. Census Bureau 2010)
  • Much of the United States’ densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level
  • Over half of the Nation’s economic productivity is located within coastal zones
  • 72% of ports, 27% of major roads, and 9% of rail lines within the Gulf Coast region are at or below 4 ft elevation (CCSP, SAP 4-7)
  • A storm surge of 23 ft has the ability to inundate 67% of interstates, 57% of arterials, almost half of rail miles, 29 airports, and virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area (CCSP SAP 4-7)

Storm surge is one of the major factors to determine local evacuations. Unsure if you live in an evacuation zone? Contact your local emergency officials, or take some time to research it on the internet.

PREPARE AT HOME

GET YOUR SUPPLY KIT READY

Once your know your risks, you should put together an essential hurricane supply kit. There are two types of “kits” you should put together…one if you’re sheltering at your home during a storm, and one that you can grab and go should you need to evacuate.

[Get your supplies ready to shelter at home Click here for a full list of essentials from FEMA ]

COMMUNICATING THROUGH A TROPICAL SYSTEM

Effective communication is critical to forecasters and emergency management to relay potentially life saving information to the public when tropical systems threaten. When a storm hits, sometimes the basic communication methods we are all familiar with, such as cell phones and internet, can fail. Learn more about communicating before and during the storm.

Additional Helpful Tips: 

ABOUT THE SCIENCE

We get it. There’s A LOT of jargon, phrases, and information that can make understanding tropical cyclones difficult. Understanding the basics may help when a storm threatens.

WATCHES VS. WARNINGS

Do you know the difference between a watch and a warning? What about all of the alerts issued during tropical season? Whenever a tropical cyclone (a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane) or a subtropical storm has formed in the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific, the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues tropical cyclone advisory products at least every 6 hours at 5 am, 11 am, 5 pm, and 11 pm EDT. A WATCH is issued when hurricane, tropical storm or storm surge conditions are expected within 48 hours. A WARNING is issued when life-threatening conditions are expected within 36 hours.

WHAT IS THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE?

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed, with 5 being the highest. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures.  (Source: NHC)

WHY ARE STORMS GIVEN NAMES?

As tropical systems develop and strengthen, they must reach a certain wind speed threshold to be given a name. According to NHC history, the use of easily remembered names greatly reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time.  Names are determined years in advance of each season by the World Meteorological Organization for different ocean basins around the world.

UNDERSTANDING THE FORECAST “CONE”

Listening to forecast details can mean the difference between being prepared and caught off guard. Before a storm strikes, you’ll often see a forecast “cone” to represent the expected forecast track of a system.  Learn how to interpret the forecast track “cone” from the National Hurricane Center, and also how we relay that information visually on WeatherNation.

WHAT PART OF A HURRICANE IS THE MOST POWERFUL?

When a hurricane threatens landfall, most often the most impacts will be felt on the “front right quadrant” in relation to the direction of movement. Impacts can and will be felt on all “sides” of a storm, but the threat of highest winds, storm surge, and indirect impacts, such as tornadoes, are often increased in the front right quadrant.

WHY CERTAIN STORM NAMES WILL NEVER BE USED AGAIN

What do the names Katrina, Ida, Laura and Andrew all have in common? They are 4 of the 93 tropical names that will never be used again to identify a tropical cyclone. The World Meteorological Organization uses names to identify cyclones around the world, but some storms become so costly or destructive, they can never be used again.

Being prepared before hurricane season is key to reacting quickly when a storm threatens your area. Understanding your risks where you live, and knowing how to react can mean the difference between saving your life and property when a storm approaches. WeatherNation will continue to follow any and all systems that threaten the U.S. and Caribbean Islands throughout hurricane season to make sure you stay informed long before a storm strikes. Still have questions? Be sure to watch Hurricane Prep Week on WeatherNation, or get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter.

About the author
Alana Cameron was born and raised in Canada in the city of Mississauga, just outside of Toronto. Alana is the oldest of 4 siblings, all close in age, and grew up playing outside with them in all types of weather. After graduating high school, Alana moved to study at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna for a year before transferring to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia where sh... Load Moree completed a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Atmospheric Science. Upon completion, Alana moved back to Toronto where she completed a post-grad degree in Meteorology at York University. After her post-grad, she went on to complete another post-grad in Broadcast Journalism - TV News at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. During her final year of studies she had the privilege of interning with the best in the business in Canada at The Weather Network. Once she finished her internship, she got the call from small-town Denison, Texas where she accepted a job as an on-air meteorologist at KTEN-TV, right in tornado alley, covering severe weather from Sherman/Denison (North Texas) to Ada (Southern Oklahoma). After the most active tornado season Oklahoma had seen in May 2019 (105 tornadoes!) Alana is excited to join WeatherNation to cover weather all across the nation. If you're interested in following her on social media she can be found @alanacameronwx!