While hurricanes are notoriously unpredictable, scientific advancements allow unprecedented insight into what to expect as a storm season approaches. The bad news? 2016 is anticipated to be a doozy, according to a just-released report from The Weather Company. Let’s take a closer look at what weather experts say lies ahead, along with tips for overcoming this less-than-sunny outlook.
What’s headed our way, according to The Weather Company forecast? Approximately 14 named storms, eight hurricanes, and three major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes will comprise the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.
If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is: The 30-year historical average consists of 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The Weather Company’s most recent outlook also outpaces predictions from earlier this spring, including one from Colorado State University (CSU) which anticipated 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.
What do these figures represent to people living in this hurricane-prone region of the country? For starters, we’re facing down the likelihood of the most active hurricane season on record since 2012.
And while there’s no link between the number of predicted storms and how many will actually make landfall, this is hardly cause for celebration. Why? Because just one hurricane can have major impact and cause massive destruction. In fact, the median amount of damage caused by the average Atlantic hurricane which hits land is a staggering $1.8 billion, and that’s not even touching on the exponential impact of multiple, consecutive severe weather events. And then there’s the fact that a mega-storm like Hurricane Katrina can alone causes damages in the realm of $145 billion.
Factor in additional uncertainty caused by the possible transition from El Niño to La Niña which experts suggest may occur right in the middle of this year’s hurricane season, and the outlook becomes even harder to predict…and increasingly ominous.
All of this is why authorities offer one paramount piece of advice above all else: Prepare, prepare, prepare— regardless of the forecast. For coastal residents, this means knowing evacuation routes; making sure that your home meets building codes; stocking up on proper tools and supplies; and having plenty of water and non-perishable food on hand. For organizations accountable for their constituents, this also means having an effective communication plan in place — long before the first drops of rain start to fall.
If January’s rare Hurricane Alex is any indication of what’s ahead, the official Atlantic hurricane season between June and November may be the worst we’ve seen in a long time with the potential for catastrophic outcomes—particularly for those who fail to plan in advance. Taking steps to prepare for the worst now can lead to increased safety—not to mention powerful peace of mind—if and when a major storm is bearing down on you.