June 1 is the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season and scientists are concerned it could be an active one.
Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, predicted a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season, according to a news release from NOAA. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1-Nov. 30.
“We encourage citizens to prepare early and have plans in place,” said Melissa Meador, Greene County Emergency Services manager. “Preparedness is critical, especially as we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Just as in years past, NOAA experts will stay ahead of developing hurricanes and tropical storms and provide the forecasts and warnings we depend on to stay safe.”
NOAA said there are several climate factors driving the likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year, including a trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea factor in.
“NOAA’s analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator. “Our skilled forecasters, coupled with upgrades to our computer models and observing technologies, will provide accurate and timely forecasts to protect life and property.”
Meador said her office is working with local, state and federal agencies regarding hurricane preparedness and COVID-19, specifically social distancing in the event of evacuations and sheltering.
“One item of great concern is whether people will be willing to leave their homes and go to a shelter due to COVID-19 concerns,” she said. “We want citizens to be safe; to feel comfortable. Measures will be in place to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19. Safe sheltering is necessary and in order to accomplish this, our normal procedures and capacity may have to be adjusted. Shelters will have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies on hand.”
A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator said natural disasters won’t wait for COVID-19 to be settled.
“Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA.
Meador said it’s important to build an emergency kit now before there is an emergency. Visit www.ready.gov for information about what to do to be prepared for anything this season.