Hurricane Alert

NOAA warns of potentially rough season ahead

Traci Carneal, Freelance writer

Less than a year after Hurricane Sandy, experts predict a 70% chance of a “very active” hurricane season, forecasting up to 20 named storms, 11 hurricanes and possibly six major hurricanes in 2013. The season for the Atlantic region, which includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, runs June 1 to Nov. 30. A typical year for the region features 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major storms with winds over 110 mph.

The stormy outlook reflects a combination of climate factors—above-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and lingering El Niño conditions—that have produced above-normal Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In fact, NOAA says this season could mimic the most severe seasons of the past two decades.

Acting NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan urged those living and working in the hurricane-prone areas along the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico should watch for NOAA-distributed alerts and also prepare for the worst. “This is your warning,” she said in a recent AP story.

Because daily weather patterns can change a storm’s course or severity, making accurate early prediction difficult, NOAA bases its forecasts on historical data. The likelihood for multiple hurricane strikes in the United States and in the region around the Caribbean Sea increases sharply for very active (or hyperactive) seasons.

The agency, however, urges businesses to prepare for every hurricane season regardless of a seasonal prediction. For example, Hurricane Sandy was not classified as a major hurricane, but it resulted in the deaths of 147 people and caused $50 billion in damage.

The Atlantic season outlook will be updated in early August, which coincides with the onset of the peak months of the hurricane season. Check for updates.

Getting Ready

Items to consider when prepping for a storm:

  • What is my company’s policy for keeping a store open?
  • Where are the safest areas for employees and customers to seek cover?
  • Is there an opportunity to move perishables to another store or protective location?
  • Do we need a generator? If store is part of a chain, will corporate provide one?
  • Should a storm hit and cause damage, whom should we contact?
  • What type of records should we keep for backup?
  • Who in our local government can serve as a resource and/or offer support if we lose power or can’t get fuel to our pumps?
  • What is the procedure for bringing fuel in from out of state if necessary?

2013 Storm Names
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