Guess what’s happening next week? Sure, Memorial Day is fast approaching, but just a few days later on June 1, hurricane season officially begins.
This week, NOAA released their predictions for the 2017 hurricane season, a six month period between June 1 and November 30.
They predict between 11 and 17 named storms, with 5-9 hurricanes and 2-4 major hurricanes (hurricanes with winds above 111 miles per hour).
We’ve actually already had our first named storm of 2017. Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the Atlantic in April, but quickly petered out and posed no threat to land. Arlene will be included in the tally of storms for hurricane season this year.
Storms can—and do—form outside the official bounds of hurricane season. But typically, 97 percent of all named storms occur between the start of June and the end of November.
NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster Gerry Bell said that this year could be as active as last year, which saw 15 named storms—the most since 2012. That included the devastating Hurricane Matthew, which killed over 500 and caused billions of dollars in damages. Last year, NOAA predicted a normal hurricane season, ending a nine year lull of below-average hurricane seasons. This year NOAA predicts a 45 percent probability of above-normal hurricane activity, a 35 percent probability of near-normal, and just a 20 percent probability of below-average storms.
The Pacific is also expected to have a normal or above-normal number of hurricanes this season.
While NOAA’s forecasters predicts the number of hurricanes in a given season, they can’t predict when the strongest hurricanes will occur within the season, if the storms will make landfall, or where those storms might strike. That information depends on a number of atmospheric and oceanic factors that can’t be predicted this far in advance.
NOAA’s predictions for the number of storms will be updated again in August, as we near the peak of hurricane season.
So while you’re stocking up on backyard games and BBQ fixings this Memorial Day, if you live in an area that could get hit by a hurricane, add a few more items to your to-do list. Take advantage of the long weekend to make sure you’re ready in case a hurricane strikes in the coming weeks.
“Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives,” said acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr. “Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared and will make all the difference: Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens; Know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts, and finally – listen to local authorities as a storm approaches.”