Hurricane Season 2020. What Could go Wrong?

May 31, 2020

June 1 marks the traditional opening of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

I spoke to one of the world’s best known hurricane experts, Kerry Emanuel of MIT, back in February.


Penn State University Earth Systems Science Center:

ESSC scientists Dr. Michael E. Mann and Daniel J. Brouillette and alumnus Dr. Michael Kozar have released their seasonal prediction for the 2020 North Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts on 1 June and runs through 30 November.

The prediction is for 19.8 +/- 4.4 total named tropical cyclones, which corresponds to a range between 15 and 24 storms, with a best estimate of 20 named storms.

The assumptions behind this forecast are (a) the persistence of current North Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR) sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (+1.1 °C in early to mid-April 2020 from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch) throughout the 2020 hurricane season, (b) the development of mild El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-negative conditions by boreal late summer and early fall 2020 (ENSO forecasts here; we used mid-April 2020), and (c) climatological mean conditions for the North Atlantic Oscillation in boreal fall/winter 2020-2021.

If no La Niña develops, then the prediction will be slightly lower: 18.3 +/- 4.3 storms (range of 14-23 storms, with a best guess of 19).

Carolina Coast Online:

Officials across the U.S. South are still scrambling to adjust their hurricane plans to the coronavirus. The big unknown: Where will people fleeing storms go?

The Associated Press surveyed more than 70 counties and states from Texas to Virginia, with more than 60% of coastal counties saying as of late May that they’re still solidifying plans for public hurricane shelters. They’re also altering preparations for dealing with the sick and elderly, protective equipment and cleanup costs.

In Georgia’s McIntosh County, south of Savannah, Emergency Management Agency Director Ty Poppell said evacuations during the pandemic would be a “nightmare.” He worried about social distancing at shelters and on buses used to get people out.

“I’d love to be able to tell you we’ve got that answered right now,” Poppell said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Hurricane season officially starts Monday, though Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha arrived early. Forecasters are expecting a busier-than-normal season.

“Everything that we do will be affected in one way or another, big and/or small, by COVID-19,” Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said.

Many counties are taking federal advice and hope to use hotels as smaller-scale shelters, while others plan to use more parts of schools besides large gymnasiums. Still others, especially in Louisiana, plan for big shelters with more social distancing.

Officials emphasize that shelters are last resorts, urging people to stay with friends or in hotels. But massive unemployment is making the expense of hotels less feasible.

“Our biggest change to our hurricane plan is sheltering. How are we going to shelter those that have to evacuate? How are going to shelter those that are positive COVID patients? There are multiple ideas that we are considering right now,” Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Greg Michel said.

During tornadoes in April, the state used hotels as shelters, which was good practice for hurricane season, he said.

Most counties surveyed said they’re still figuring out shelters.

While that may sound worrisome, it could be beneficial because emergency managers need to update plans as the pandemic changes, University of South Carolina disaster expert Susan Cutter said.

“Disasters are not going to stop for COVID-19,” Brad Kieserman, an American Red Cross executive, told reporters in May. “Hope is not a plan. And we’ve got to plan for tens of thousands of people to evacuate in the face of hurricanes and wildfires and other disasters.”

Some officials acknowledged they aren’t as ready for storm season as they were a year ago because of the virus. Others were more confident.

“We feel the current rating of preparedness for Craven County (North Carolina) is 50% or lower as we still have not finalized shelter options,” said Stanley Kite, emergency services director of the county hit by 2018’s Hurricane Florence. “Before COVID-19, would have estimated 90%.”

Shelters were the most mentioned worry, but comfort levels with other aspects of hurricane preparations varied, reflecting the difference in how states plan for disasters. Having enough staff for shelters is a persistent problem locally and nationally, said Walton County, Florida, emergency management chief Jeff Goldberg.

Protective equipment is the biggest shortfall in several North Carolina counties. Money is always an issue, with counties often waiting for federal reimbursement. Handling nursing homes, hospitals and COVID-19 patients “is one of the most difficult challenges and would require a larger state response,” said Jeffrey Johnson, fire chief in Newport News, Virginia.

5 Responses to “Hurricane Season 2020. What Could go Wrong?”

  1. Gingerbaker Says:

    I think we are looking forward to a real good competitive season. We’re going to hit em high, we are going to hit em low, we are going to hit em hard hard HARD.

    We’re going to move move move up and down that field and we are going to work work work. We are going to wreck em! We are going to bust em up! We are going to blow right by em!

    We are going to rush em and we are going to score touchdown after touchdown after touchdown!

    Why? Because we got the best system. A really big, really strong , really tight system. We’ll be packin’ a whole lot of power.

  2. grindupbaker Says:

    The high wind speeds of Jet Streams & cyclones is because the formula is:
    Acceleration = f (velocity, latitude)
    If it were velocity as a function of (velocity then it would just turn at an angle but acceleration being the proportionality causes the highly-exponential relationship which leads to circling Earth west-to-east or to circling the eye wall at a speed far higher than the incoming surface wind speed.

  3. grindupbaker Says:

    The formating removed chunks of my comment (they weren’t rude). It was
    Acceleration xxxlongtitudinal vectorxxx = f (velocityxxxlatitudinal vectorxxx, latitude)
    If it were velocityxxxlongxxx as a function of (velocityxxxlatxxx then it would just turn at an angle but acceleration being the proportionality causes the highly-exponential relationship which leads to circling Earth west-to-east or to circling the eye wall at a speed far higher than the incoming surface wind speed.
    I bet the formating loves xxx

  4. redskylite Says:

    American Climate Video: Hurricane Michael Intensified Faster Than Even Long-Time Residents Could Imagine.

    Waiting out a Category 5 storm was not on Hal Summers’ bucket list.

    But in the days leading up to Oct. 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael did not seem like it would turn out to be the first storm of such magnitude to hit the Florida Panhandle, where Summers had lived in Mexico Beach for 11 years.

    “I thought I would be safe in my parents’ place,” Summers said. “I could ride it out there.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: