Now Is the Time to Prepare for Hurricane Season

The experts have weighed in and it looks like 2011 will be another very active hurricane season. But as we found out last year... just because it is busy does not mean we will be impacted. That said... it only takes 1 storm to have a very bad hurricane season.

This week the National Hurricane Center released their seasonal hurricane forecast for the Atlantic... and like other experts... they too are expect an above average season.

Source of prediction (2011)
Total named storms Total hurricanes Total major hurricanes
NOAA 12-18 (15) 6-10 (8) 3-6 (4.5)
Impact Weather 14 8 4
AccuWeather 15 8 3
Colorado State University 16 9 5
Tropical Storm Risk 14 8 4
North Carolina State University 13-16 (14.5) 7-9 (8) 3-5 (4)
Average prediction
14.9 6.8 4.1
Normal season (1950-2010) 11 6 2

Despite the high forecast numbers the way you prepare for the season should be the same if the forecast called for 1 storm or 50.  A lot of folks thought last year was a bust as far as the forecast was concerned.  Remember, the forecast does not take landfall chances into consideration.  What steers storms once they develop in more on what meteoroloigists call the synoptic scale....  basically the same scale as your 7day forecast is based.  It is not possible to know where storms are going months in advance.

Also, remember 1992?  1992 was a very quiet tropical season... expect for that one storm....  Andrew.  If Andrew hit NWFL and that was the only storm that entire season what would your thoughts be as to 'how busy' it was?  Wouldn't you have wanted to prepare ahead of time?

I went back into our hurricane archive and did a search for all the category 3 or higher storms that passd within 100 miles of Panama City and the below chart shows the result.  Of course all storms are different, but probably the worst storm was Eloise back in 1975.  That is the line that passes under the 'P' in Panama City.

Eloise was a Category Three Hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph, and gusts of up to 156 mph. It produced a 12 to 16 foot storm surge along the Florida Coast from Ft. Walton Beach to Panama City, Florida. Eloise was the first major hurricane to make a direct hit on this area in the 20th century, and caused some $1 billion dollars in damage as well as 21 deaths.

I went into the archive to look at some more historic data as far as our storm frequency.  This data comes from hurricane city.com.

Longest gap between storms
9 years 1975-1985

How often this area gets affected?
brushed or hit every 2.40 years

Average years between direct hurricane hits.(hurricane force wind gusts for a few hours)
(17h)once every 8.18 years

Average MPH of hurricane hits. (based on advisories sustained winds at closest approach, not gusts)
100mph

Statistically when Panama City should be affected next
before the end of 2012

Some of the ingredients that are causing experts to predict 2011 to be so active are...

  • The continuing high activity era. Since 1995, the tropical multi-decadal signal has brought ocean and atmospheric conditions conducive for development in sync, leading to more active Atlantic hurricane seasons.
  • Warm Atlantic Ocean water. Sea surface temperatures where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic are up to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer-than-average.
  • La Niña, which continues to weaken in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is expected to dissipate later this month or in June, but its impacts such as reduced wind shear are expected to continue into the hurricane season.

To help you get your family ready you can put together your family or business disaster plan at the Florida Division of Emergency Management Website.  It will take 5-10 minutes to answer the questions and print out your family plan.

You can also find all your tropical weather maps, charts, evacuation maps, and family checklist on our tropical weather page at WJHG.com.

I hope you will take a few moments this Memorial Weekend to get your family ready just in case we see a storm this year.

As always, if you have any questions about hurricane preparedness do not hesitate to contact myself or any of the members of the VIPIR7 Weather Team.

 

Sincerely,

 

Chris Smith
Chief Meteoroloogist, WJHG-TV
chris.smith@wjhg.com

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