Next Sunday will mark the start of what is expected to be a busier than usual Atlantic hurricane season.
With a probability of 70%, the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has projected a range of 13 to 20 named storms with winds of 39 mph for the season, including six to 10 storms that could become hurricanes with winds above 74 mph.
Three to five of these hurricanes are expected to be Category 3-5 hurricanes with winds above 111 mph.
There is a 60% chance the season will be above normal, a 30% chance the season will be near normal, and a 10% chance the season will be below normal, according to the agency.
The coming season is not expected to be as active as the 2020 record season which topped the 2005 record for most storms. Thirty named storms developed, including 13 hurricanes and six major hurricanes.
“People associate 2020 with the year we experienced the worst global pandemic in over a century. But last year was also the most active Atlantic hurricane season for 170 years, ”Don Graves, US Under Secretary of Commerce, said in a recent briefing.
El Niño Southern Oscillation conditions are currently in the neutral phase, and there is a possibility of La Niña returning later in the hurricane season, according to the federal agency. The two conditions of support associated with the era of high activity that has lasted since 1995.
“Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures forecast in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, lower tropical Atlantic trade winds and increased monsoon in West Africa are (also) likely to be expected. factors in overall activity this year, ”said Matthew Rosencrans, seasonal hurricane forecaster at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.
Once a decade, NOAA updates its 30-year recording period which is used to determine when hurricane seasons are above, near, or below average compared to the climate record.
Beginning with the 2021 outlook, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center will use 1991-2020 as the new 30-year record period for projections.
The updated averages are 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes – an increase from the 1981-2010 30-year record of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
The increase in averages can be attributed to the overall improvement in viewing platforms and to the warming of the ocean and atmosphere which are being influenced by climate change, according to the agency. The updated dossier also reflects a very busy period over the past three decades.
The 2021 outlook will be updated in August, ahead of the peak hurricane season in August, September and October.
The NOAA forecast does not predict if or where the storms will make landfall. Local emergency management officials point out that it only takes one storm to make the season active on the central Texas coast.
“We live in a tropical region with a return rate of basically a major storm once every 10 years, and it’s kind of like living in a flood plane,” said Rick McBrayer, Emergency Management Coordinator of Victoria County. “Living in a 100-year flood plan doesn’t mean you have to wait 100 years for a flood to happen. These can occur consecutively. “
McBrayer said complacency posed the greatest challenges for hurricane preparedness, resilience and people’s ability to recover.
The last time Victoria County was directly hit by a major hurricane with winds from a Category 3 or higher storm was in 1961 when Hurricane Carla devastated the area.
McBrayer said he liked to remind people of Hurricane Carla because it can be easy to forget the storms that swept through Victoria in the decades that followed could have been much stronger. Hurricane Harvey, for example, was Category 1 when it hit Victoria County.
“Complacency will set in and people will say, ‘Well, I went through Hurricane Harvey and it was a Category 4 storm,’ he said. “They prepared for a Category 4 storm called Hurricane Harvey, but passed through Hurricane Harvey as a Category 1 wind load here in Victoria … We are not delineating or removing what happened. passed during Hurricane Harvey. We’ve had a lot of devastation in our community, but we just don’t want this misconception.
The weeks leading up to hurricane season are a great time to set aside time to review evacuation routes, stock up on supplies, get important documents online, and take other steps to make sure you’re ready for the months to come. come whether you are new or not. the area or has lived in a coastal community all his life, he said.
“We’re so inclined to charge our cell phones and look at that cell phone and make sure it’s charged before we get in the car and go somewhere that we know we won’t have the accessibility to. recharge, ”McBrayer said. “It is good for us to remind ourselves, as we enter hurricane season, that the time has come for us to recharge our preparations and make sure we are ready to go.”
Kali Venable is an investigative and environmental reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6558 or email@example.com.