Hurricane Season Gains Intensity: New Storm Forms Near US
Forecasters predict that a third named storm at the start of this year's hurricane season will form later this week over the Gulf of Mexico and possibly affect the U.S. coastline. Writes about it Yahoo!
There is a 90 percent chance that an area of low pressure and thunderstorms, currently located in Campeche Bay in southern Mexico, will escalate into a tropical storm over the next 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center on its website. In this case, the storm will be called Claudette Tropical Storm.
The hurricane season began on May 15, and the National Hurricane Center has already named three storms, which is rare for this time of year and may indicate an upcoming development. Forecasters have warned that this Atlantic hurricane season will be "above average."
“We expect 13 to 20 named storms to reach the strength of tropical storms,” said Michael Brennan, head of hurricane operations at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
"Six to ten of these are expected to be hurricanes and at least three to five will be severe hurricanes," he added.
Emergency specialists have been particularly busy in 2020. The United States has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country has also experienced its worst hurricane season since 2005: 14 storms that have killed more than 400 people and more than $ 51 billion in damage.
Like many organizations across the country, due to the pandemic, the NHC continues to operate in a hybrid mode. But the agency made sure that staff were dispersed to minimize the amount of travel needed in an emergency.
“A year like 2020 is coming when nearly every inch of the US coastline from Texas to Maine, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, has been affected in one way or another by at least one tropical storm or hurricane. Last year, people realized that there are many vulnerabilities, ”he said.
When it comes to deciding which communities to evacuate due to a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center will rely on enhanced technological capabilities to help assess risk.
“For example, constantly improving satellites and trying to do more with resonant aircraft that can fly right into storms and directly measure wind, structure, pressure and other data,” Brennan explained.
These upgrades could save millions of dollars in evacuation efforts and headaches for those in areas not hit by the hurricane, he said.
Although research has shown that hurricanes are getting more powerful due to climate change, predicting where they will hit continues to improve.
“The National Hurricane Center has now been able to pinpoint them with its new products, and this is just the beginning,” said Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Emergency Management Department (FDEM).
Guthrie took over as head of FDEM in May. As the number of new COVID-19 cases across the country falls, he will need to make sure his state is prepared for a deadly new threat.
“We need to be adaptable, we need to be able to cope with two or three different disasters at the same time,” said Guthrie. "Of course, COVID and last year's hurricane season highlighted this."
Before hurricanes hit, residents can do themselves a huge favor by checking their insurance policies, Guthrie said. Apart from protecting personal safety, he said, the first line of defense is to ensure that the home is insured against possible damage.
Hurricane Laura, for example, became the most costly weather event in the U.S. in 2020, causing $ 19 billion in damage and 42 deaths. The Category 4 storm that struck Louisiana resulted in 130 claims for loss of residential property.
Guthrie advised people to photograph their property before and after the hurricane to illustrate the extent of the damage to help document insurance claims.
“Regardless of where you are in the United States, if you are eligible for every program that FEMA offers, you will receive a check for approximately $ 35 to $ 000," Guthrie explained.
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Red Cross emergency volunteer Dan Haliburton and his wife contracted COVID-19 last year. But the husband recovered in time and helped respond to Hurricane Laura, which devastated parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
“It is significant that no one was traveling at the height of the pandemic,” Haliburton said. “The hotels were mostly empty, so we were able to accommodate many people in shelters and hotels. This, of course, provided a much greater degree of security. "
According to him, the big danger for the survivors of the hurricane is associated with the need to generate electricity.
“Most of the deaths during Laura were caused by the misuse of generators,” Haliburton said.
As the NHC continues to monitor new oncoming storms, including straining air masses off the coast of Africa, Brennan is urging Americans to pay attention to this hurricane season as well.
“It's all about planning ahead, knowing your risk and having a plan so that in the event of a storm you can set it in motion,” he summed up.
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