ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. is in for another active Atlantic hurricane season, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting 14 to 21 named storms, and three to six of those storms are expected to be major hurricanes (category three or higher), reports the Washington Post. This is the seventh year in a row the administration has predicted an above normal Atlantic hurricane season.
Last year, there were 31 named storms, which was the third most on record, running through the National Hurricane Center’s conventional naming list, and in 2020, 30 hurricanes formed. The two seasons combined produced the most landfalling storms on record in the United States. Additionally, there were more category 4 and 5 hurricane landfalls from 2017 to 2021 than from 1963 to 2016.
However, a hurricane doesn’t need to hit the coast to cause major damage. Superstorm Sandy was weakening from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone when it hit the Northeast, causing massive storm surge, torrential rain and damaging winds. The storm was blamed for $80 billion in damage and was the fourth-costliest tropical system on record.
Tropical systems can also cause severe damage hundreds of miles from where they first come ashore. Last year’s Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana and caused catastrophic flooding in the Northeast—including New York City—and was the fifth-costliest hurricane on record.
NOAA’s hurricane season outlook predicts a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance that it will be below normal.
The accuracy of hurricane outlooks has improved during the past decade, but predictions of storms once they form have made even greater strides. The National Hurricane Center’s storm track forecasts have steadily improved, and its average storm intensity forecast error is now 40% less than it was in 2000. And it’s only going to get better, according to Rick Spinrad, NOAA’s administrator.
“NOAA will triple operational supercomputing capacity this summer,” Spinrad said at a news conference. “This upgrade will allow for higher-resolution earth models that can handle larger ensembles of models with more numerous calculations, more advanced physical considerations and more advanced ability to assimilate the data collected out in the storm.”
The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1 and runs through November 30, but there has been a recent uptick in early-season storm activity, so preparedness is important.
“Early preparation and understanding your risk are key to being hurricane-resilient and climate-ready,” said Gina Raimondo, secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department, which oversees NOAA.
Craig Fugate, former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the Obama Administration, headlined a NACS webinar on how to plan and prepare for emergencies and how to use the NACS Convenience Store Emergency Planning and Job Aids. The resource is designed to help convenience retailers quickly and efficiently determine the best course of action for their teams to plan for an emergency and resume operations quickly and safely.
For more emergency planning resources, NACS Magazine articles and Convenience Matters podcast episodes, check out NACS’ Disaster and Emergency Preparedness topics page.