Experts Announce Extremely Active & Near-Record Hurricane Season

Categories: Safety, Facilities Maintenance

According to NOAA, normal years produce 12 named storms, but 2020 is not a normal year. This year’s forecasts are showing an increase in the number of named storms, possibly producing more than double a normal year.

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One of those reasons is warmer water. While scientists and experts aren’t clear why the water is warming, the changes are causing an increase in the number of severe weather occurrences.

Businesses and residents that lie along the Atlantic coastline could see an increase in the amount of damage sustained from severe weather this year. If you are located near a hurricane-prone area, you’ll need to develop or refresh your hurricane plan now, before a storm threatens. Also, it is recommended that you pay close attention to the forecast over the next several weeks.

Potentially Dangerous Peak Season

With as many as 25 named storms now expected — twice the average number — 2020 is shaping up to be an extremely active season with more frequent, longer and stronger storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns.

NOAA’s metrics are not only taking into account the number of storms that may occur but also their intensity and longevity. So far, it's been the seventh most active start to an Atlantic hurricane season since 1966,

Wind patterns and warmer-than-normal seawater have conspired to prime the Atlantic Ocean for a particularly active year.

As an example, Tropical Storms Josephine and Kyle became the earliest tenth and 11th named storms on record in the Atlantic Basin. Kyle formed on August 14, 10 days earlier in the season than 2005's infamous Hurricane Katrina formed, which was previously the earliest recorded "K" storm.

Know Your Storms' Strength

As severe storms form and approach your area, it’s best to know the different categories of storms and what damage may occur at each level. A “major” hurricane is classified as a Category 3 or greater.

Category 1 -Winds: 74-95 mph

Expect no real damage to building structures. Damage will primarily be focused on unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Also, some coastal flooding and minor pier damage may occur.

Category 2 - Winds: 96-110 mph

Winds may cause some roofing material, and door and window damage to occur. Expect considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes, etc. Flooding may damage piers and small crafts located in unprotected moorings and their moorings may break.

Category 3 - Winds: 111-130 mph (major)

At this speed, winds will cause some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings, with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Mobile homes can be destroyed. Flooding near the coast can destroy smaller structures which can cause larger structures to become damaged by floating debris. The terrain may be flooded well inland.

Category 4 - Winds: 131-155 mph (major)

Expect more extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences. There will be major erosion of beach areas. The terrain may be flooded well inland.

Category 5 - Winds: 155+ mph (major)

Winds will cause complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Expect complete building failures with small utility buildings being blown over or away. The flooding will cause major damage to the lower floors of all structures near the shoreline. A massive evacuation of the residential areas may be required.

Create a Response Plan

When flooding, damaging winds, severe thunderstorms, and tornadoes occur, decisions need to be made quickly, and actions should be taken immediately. One cannot wait for the storms to strike to plan what must be done to save lives.

Hurricanes, winter storms, excessive cold, or excessive heat waves may provide you with more advanced notice, but emergency action plans should still be in place, no matter the scenario.

Prepare before the storm and run emergency action drills with your team so that when action needs to happen, teams will execute your plans seamlessly.

Level 1 – Business as usual

  • Normal weather, no significant adverse conditions

Level 2 - Plan review and initial preparations

  • Start of hurricane season (June 1) or tornado season (May 1)
  • Hurricanes, Severe, or Tropical storms developing
  • Severe storms or extreme weather conditions are predicted

Level 3 - Prepare for possible shutdown and/or plan activation

  • Severe weather or storm conditions, high sustained winds, or tornado warnings
  • Major or flash flooding has been predicted
  • Area is under a hurricane or tornado Watch status
  • Voluntary evacuations are initiated
  • School, government office or airport closures are pending

Level 4 - Shut down operations and/or activate plans

  • Sustained Gale force winds (39-54 mph)
  • Severe to extreme flooding happening
  • Mandatory evacuations initiated
  • School, government offices, or airport closings initiated
  • Severe weather status has been upgraded from watch to warning

While it’s hard to know how many storms in total will make landfall this year, the chances are that it will be high. Experts have declared that the probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall in the continental United States before the end of the season is 74 percent — compared with the average seasonal likelihood of 52 percent.

Since it is expected that we will have more activity and that the current trend is showing not only more storms but an increase in storm severity, it is best to prepare your facility and revise your emergency action plan for the current environment.

Flagship's customizable approach to your facility's needs will help you protect employees in their workplace now and into the future.

Email a facilities expert today and get the help you need to create your Severe Weather Emergency plan.