hurricane_slide11_aerial-view1-defaultThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released an updated outlook for the rest of the 2011 hurricane season, predicting rougher times ahead.  NOAA’s new season outlook indicates an 85% chance for an above-normal season with only a 15% chance of a near-normal season and no current chance of a below-normal season.  This is an update from the May prediction of 65% chance for an above-normal season.  Overall predictions hold at 14-19 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes. This season has already brought with it 5 tropical storms, leaving 9-14 more likely this season.

This new report came out only a few weeks before the development of Hurricane Irene in the Atlantic. Irene is the first hurricane of the season and predictions estimate it could be as large as a category 3 hurricane with wind speeds as high as 110 mph by the time it makes landfall, on or around August 26. If the hurricane does not drastically change course or dissipate, it will be the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since hurricane Ike in 2008.  Projected paths have the hurricane hitting North Carolina and proceeding up the east coast toward New England. Some are worried that due to the dearth of significant hurricanes in the past few years, individuals may not take warnings seriously. It is important to remember the devastating effects of hurricanes if not properly prepared. One need only search for images of hurricane Andrew, Hugo, and Katrina to see the kind of devastation a hurricane can bring.

After NOAA’s initial prediction of an above average hurricane season in May, the Atlantic kept quiet with no storm reaching hurricane status. If Irene is an indication of things to come, then NOAA’s prediction may unfortunately still come to pass. In order to protect you, your family, and your business, it is important to remember what to do in preparation for a hurricane.

  • A hurricane watch issued for your area indicates the possibility of hurricane conditions within 48 hours, while a hurricane warning indicates hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.
  • Listen for recommendations from community officials. Follow any evacuation order for your area. Make sure you are prepared to evacuate by having an emergency kit prepared and by knowing your proper evacuation routes. For more on preparing an emergency kit see the checklist on your Preparis portal.
  • Preparations ahead of time should include covering windows with storm shutters or plywood, bringing all outdoor furniture inside, turning off utilities like gas, electricity, and water, and stocking up on water.
  • If an evacuation is not ordered, seek shelter as you would for a tornado in an interior room on the lowest floor, away from windows and exterior doors.

For more information on hurricane preparedness visit your Preparis portal for a Threat summary, Training Exercises, Tabletops, and Checklists.