2020 Hurricane Season Projected to have Above Average Activity Levels
With hurricane season fast approaching and COVID-19 running rampant, many South Floridians appear worried by the extreme projections made and are wondering how to prepare themselves amidst this pandemic.
The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ends November 30, with storms potentially forming outside of this window. According to the Insurance Information Institute, a typical storm season will yield 12 named storms and six total hurricanes. But, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is projected to have above-normal activity levels.
Dr. Phil Klotzbach along with his associates at Colorado State University, “has issued an early forecast of 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes for the year, with above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” according to the Insurance Information Institute’s website.
Residents of Boca Raton and surrounding areas should begin their preparations for this extremely active hurricane season now.
Prevention and preparedness are vital during an extremely active storm season. The city of Boca Raton’s Department of Emergency Management suggests putting a plan in place at the beginning of each season regarding supplies and establishing evacuation routes.
“The city of Boca Raton has a very robust prepare, response, and recovery program…we start preparing from April [to check] our operational plans,” Emergency Manager for Boca Raton Nicole Gasparri states. “We treat every season as if it’s going to be a bad season…this means everything from our emergency management plans, utility responses, recovery plan, making sure essential personnel have everything they need…we check equipment and we make sure our supplies are in order… This is all being done.”
Most residents felt the panic among fellow shoppers when stocking up their households for quarantine. This same feeling can be avoided and will ensure everyone will get the supplies they need simply by buying now.
“One of the things we are trying to encourage people to do is get that plan in place,” adds Gasparri. “Get your supplies…because we don’t need a mass rush of people congregating at all of the stores trying to get supplies when we are trying to social distance.”
Remaining socially distant may seem impossible when relying on a public shelter to stay safe, but Gasparri notes that Palm Beach County’s Emergency Operations Center is currently modifying their plans to accommodate a large number of people with adequate spacing between them.
Experts believe a proper hurricane food supply should include enough water and non-perishables to sustain each household member for at least three days. Some examples would be: bottles of water, canned goods, and dried cereals stocked up and easily accessible. Other non-food related necessities would be flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, and if possible, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio for weather updates.
In the case of a mass power outage, Gasparri says that live updates from Mayor Scott Singer will be broadcasted from a portable radio on channel 1650AM. Gasparri urges every household to own either a battery-operated or a hand-crank radio.
This shopping list is a staple for every South Floridian household, yet due to COVID-19, stocking up on essentials has become even more of a daunting task. Most have felt the effects of panic buying when the virus was declared a pandemic and quarantine began its enforcement. Toilet paper, non-perishable goods, and disinfectants were near impossible to find throughout major stores.
This begs the question, will shopping for hurricane season play out in a similar manner?
“With hurricane season approaching, we continue to diligently work with our suppliers to ensure we’ll have the vital suppliers needed to prepare early,” says Maria Brous, Director of Communications for Publix. “Water production is in full-swing, and inventory levels are returning to pre-pandemic state, with few exceptions.”
It is important to get your supplies early to prepare for the possibility of these essential stores to be closed in an emergency situation due to the predicted severity of this season.
“We stay closely connected to our operators in the field to help ensure we’re stocking the appropriate items, keeping track of shipments and moving products to areas where we anticipate there will be the greatest need before and after a storm,” says Casey Staheli, Senior Manager of National Media Relations for Walmart.
Palm Beach County released a hurricane planning guide available here: http://discover.pbcgov.org/publicsafety/PDF/Hurricane-Guide.pdf to potentially aid those unsure of how to adequately prepare.
Hurricanes and their severity are measured by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with categories ranging from one to five, five being the most extreme. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides more information on what to expect from each category. This scale shows Category three, four, and five as major storms with winds starting at 111mph that may cause extensive damage.
You can find updates on new and existing storms on the NOAA website linked here: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/