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Theta, Iota or Kappa? 2020’s Record-Breaking Hurricane Season

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

We’re all familiar with hurricane naming conventions. Every year, one name for each letter of the alphabet (excluding Q, U, X, Y and Z) is picked, with each major storm being given a name in sequence. What you may not know is that the Greek alphabet is used as a backup in case a hurricane season forces us to run out of names. And for only the second time ever, this has happened.

The Most Active Hurricane Season on Record

Earlier this year, experts at Colorado State University predicted an active hurricane season featuring sixteen named storms, with eight being designated as hurricanes and four of those being listed as major hurricanes. The rapidly unfolding Hurricane Eta has brought those three figures to 28, twelve and five respectively. Only the 2005 season – with 27 named storms and one unnamed storm – can compete with 2020 on the list of seasons with the most tropical depressions. 2020 also has the distinction of the most named storms to make landfall in a single season with 11, breaking the mark of 9 from 1916. And with almost a month to go until hurricane season ends, it’s entirely likely that we may add Hurricane Theta, Iota or even Kappa based on current trends.

While these numbers themselves may not mean much, the human and financial toll wrought across the Caribbean has been overwhelming. To use just the United States as an example, here’s just a minor snapshot of the devastation:

  • Hurricane Cristobal hit Louisiana in June, killing 15 and causing $665 million in damage.
  • Later that month, Hurricane Isaias made landfall in North Carolina, resulting in over $4 billion in damage.
  • Hurricane Laura, the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Louisiana since 1856, caused 77 deaths and at least $14.1 billion in damage in August.

The only small positive about this year is that we’ve been spared the (relative) devastation of a single catastrophic event. This century alone, hurricanes like Katrina, Harvey, Sandy and Irma caused hundreds of deaths and tens of billions in damage. That being said, however, the hyperactivity of 2020 has still resulted in a cumulative $33.65 billion in damage thus far. While we are still nowhere near 2017’s insane figure of $294 billion, it’s still significantly higher than the annual average.

Are Hyperactive Hurricane Seasons the New Normal?

Given how shifts in other climactic elements (most notably wildfires) seem to be growing worse year-on-year, this may not be the case with hurricanes. In fact, there’s no real data to suggest that next year’s hurricane season will be better or worse. For example, after the previous record-setting year of 2005, the following decade was actually one of the mildest ever. In fact, the 10-year running total of U.S. hurricane landfalls from 2006 through 2015 was seven, according to Alex Lamers, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. This was a record low for any 10-year period dating to 1850, and considerably lower than the average of 17 per 10-year period dating to 1850. What this means for 2021 and beyond is, unfortunately, unclear.

Start Planning Today for Hurricane Season 2021

From Texas to North Carolina, hurricanes threaten vast swaths of the coastal United States every year. And while you can’t stop a storm from striking, you can lessen its impact. According to the National Weather Service, there are numerous measures you can take in advance of severe storms. With over six months to go until the official start of hurricane season 2021, they recommend that you should:

These recommendations apply not only to homes but also to businesses. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), almost 40% of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster. This is a pretty startling statistic and underscores the importance of effective planning to mitigate the effects of a hurricane. But even hurricane preparedness can only get you so far in the face of a Category 4 hurricane. While the resources above can help you to plan for hurricanes, the major issue to contend with in 2021 will be how to keep employees and the community safe.

Effective Communication Is Key in Any Hurricane Scenario

Unlike crises such as active shooters or chemical explosions, hurricanes are distinct in that their arrival can be anticipated. As mentioned above, however, this does not mean that you should wait until the last minute to prepare.

To keep your employees or community safe, you need to quickly broadcast health and safety messages. You also need the ability to update information to meet people’s changing needs throughout the crisis. Thankfully, CentrAlert has a simple solution.

Weather NOW! Sends NOAA Reports Directly to Any Device

Part of CentrAlert’s suite of Adaptive Intelligent Controls, Weather NOW! automatically sends preset messages to specific people via any communication channel warning them of a weather crisis. Weather NOW! receives information directly from the National Weather Service (NWS) or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), unlike other applications that rely on third-party interfaces to receive their weather data. This module can also be combined with CentrAlert’s patented Advisor Alert Radio™ (which is the only alert radio that can provide both an NOAA and a local receiver) to allow localized control of escalating events.

All of these solutions can be adapted to fit any hurricane preparedness plan and if you want more information on how CentrAlert can help protect your municipality or organization from severe weather events, please click here.

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