Hurricane season, which typically begins in August and lasts through October in the United States, can sometimes be daunting, but how will preparing for hurricane season change due to the COVID-19 pandemic? We sat down with Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Director of Atmospheric Sciences at The University of Georgia, to find out more about the upcoming hurricane season.
When do you predict hurricane season to peak?
“The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is around the 2nd week of September so the months of August to October are when things generally get going. Many experts are predicting up to 20 named storms this year.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average hurricane season sees about 12 named storms. By the end of July of this year we had already seen eight named tropical storms. Is this why experts are saying we may have a more than active normal hurricane season?
“The Sea Surface Temperatures are very warm in the Atlantic and Gulf and there has been quite a bit of rainfall in the Sahel and west Africa. These are two indicators of an active season. Additionally, there is no El Nino right now. El Nino years tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity.”
How should Georgians prepare?
“For me, the most useful aspect of these seasonal predictions is to really start to get people to think about what they would actually have to do if they needed to evacuate and perhaps go to a shelter and have to deal with COVID. I think that there is an extra layer of concern and an extra layer of forethought needed in how people prepare. You may want to add masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant products to emergency supply kits.”
How do you foresee preparation or evacuation plans changing due to COVID-19?
You may also want to check if your normal evacuation area is a hotspot for COVID-19. Certainly all counties are dealing with this, but if you look at various states, some counties are hotter than others in terms of hotspots, so maybe that’s not a place that you would evacuate to, even though in the past it might’ve been a place you would go. Some organizations are reducing shelter capacity to provide more space for social distancing. If you do end up evacuating to a shelter, personal protective equipment may be crucial to help prevent sickness.
Just because an active season is predicted doesn’t necessarily mean we will see more intense hurricanes this season, but Dr. Shepherd says it only takes one to make its mark. “It really only takes one bad hurricane in a given year to be memorable.”
For more helpful tips on preparing for a hurricane please visit www.gfbinsurance.com