According to experts, the United States might face an “above average” hurricane season. As many residents along the nation’s coasts know, June marks the beginning of hurricane season. With signs of Hurricane Harvey still scarring the landscape, Harris County residents are looking for ways to prepare.
Why Weather Experts Are Concerned About 2020’s Hurricane Season
Jeff Lindner is a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District. He says that prediction indicators in the Atlantic Basin hint at a season that has the potential to deliver powerful storms to American coasts.
“We have to prepare every year because, as we know here, as we saw last year and as we saw back in 2017 with Harvey, it only takes one storm to cause us big problems,” Lindner said.
Lindner said that an average season for the Atlantic Basin features about 12 significant storms with winds of at least 40 miles per hour. This trend describes storm patterns from the last 30 years of hurricane seasons. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration is forecasting about 13 to 19 powerful storms in the basin. About 6 to 10 of these storms are projected to be hurricanes. Of these, about 3 to 6 of these hurricanes will be major ones with winds of 111 mph or higher. This is consistent with numbers from last year—the area had 18 named storms.
Where 2020’s Hurricanes Might Happen
Predictions for the 2020 season are placing most of the Atlantic Basin’s storm activity near the Caribbean. This means that they could affect Central America, the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida as storms pass through the region. A severe storm is likely to bring flooding, just as seen with Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Irma. However, experts warn that people should prepare for any type of hazard brought by strong storms. These hazards include rain, wind, and storm surge—a phenomenon that finds natural bodies of water increase in level and brings water to areas that usually don’t have it.
“We have to be careful that we don’t forget the other factors that come along, especially with hurricanes, and that is the wind factor and also the potential for the storm surge … near the coast,” Lindner said. “So, we haven’t dealt with those two factors here in southeast Texas really since [Hurricane] Ike back in 2008.”
What Can People Do to Stay Safe During Hurricane Season?
Lindner recommends that people in areas that are prone to storms, hurricanes, and flooding to watch weather forecasts at least once a day. He also suggests that people take other steps such as purchasing flood insurance even if your home isn’t in a floodplain. After all, Hurricane Harvey flooded areas of Harris County that hadn’t seen flooding in over 100 years.
“If you have specific medications you need, or if you have a pet, or if you have young children, all of those circumstances require certain things in that kit to make things easier and better when you go through a storm or in the aftermath of a storm,” Lindner said.