During the Atlantic hurricane season, expect high winds, heavy rain, blackouts, and flash floods, just to name a few of the hazards.
But when does the Atlantic hurricane season begin, and for how long? The most dangerous storms on Earth pose a significant threat to human life, so what steps can they take to be ready? We’ll cover everything you need to know about this year’s hurricane season, from the proper way to name a hurricane to how to stay safe during one. The Atlantic hurricane season in 2021 is expected to be busier than usual, resulting in more intense storms.
Tropical cyclones include hurricanes. Winds that reach 39–73mph (63–118km/h) constitute tropical storms, which are named by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) when they reach this threshold. A Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph (119 to 153 km/h). The following sustained wind speeds are associated with hurricanes of Saffir-Simpson categories 2 through 5:
Named storms and hurricanes of 2021:
- Tropical storm Ana: May 22, northeast of Bermuda
- Tropical storm Bill: June 14, southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Tropical storm Claudette: June 17, Gulf Coast
- Tropical storm Danny: June 28, makes landfall just north of Hilton Head on Pritchards Island, South Carolina
- Hurricane Elsa: July 2, eastern Caribbean as a Category 1 hurricane
According to NASA, hurricanes are the world’s most destructive storms. There are only two ingredients that can fuel a hurricane: heat and water. The warm waters above the equator, where the air above the ocean’s surface absorbs heat and moisture, are the breeding grounds for hurricanes. There is a lower pressure area below the hot air as it rises. According to NASA, swirls in the air are created when air from higher pressure areas moves into lower pressure areas, heats up, and rises. The hot air cools down and condenses into clouds once it reaches a high altitude in the atmosphere. This growing vortex of air and clouds has the potential to intensify into a thunderstorm.
This means that one prerequisite for hurricanes is warmer water in the Atlantic Ocean. Warmer water in the ocean also creates other conditions that make hurricanes more likely.
“When the water temperature is higher, the pressure is lower. Hurricanes are more likely to intensify in an unstable atmosphere “said Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University atmospheric scientist. As the building blocks of hurricanes, thunderstorms are better able to organise and get started.
Climatic shear, or the change in wind direction with altitude, is another important consideration, according to Klotzbach. Live Science quotes Klotzbach as saying that “when you have a warm tropical Atlantic, you have reduced levels of wind shear.” Having a lot of wind shear disintegrates a hurricane.”As a result of Earth’s tilt on its axis, storms that form on either side of the equator have different spin orientations.
HOW CLIMATE PATTERNS AFFECT HURRICANES
Hurricanes, on the other hand, aren’t born out of thin air; they’re the result of larger weather systems. Climate Prediction Center lead seasonal hurricane forecaster Gerry Bell says two dominant climate patterns control the wind and pressure patterns across the Atlantic.
The El Nio/La Nia cycle is the first. A stronger-than-usual El Nio reduces the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes while a weaker-than-usual La Nia increases their frequency and intensity.
The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), as the name implies, is a long-term trend that can last from 25 to 40 years and is linked to warmer Atlantic waters and stronger African monsoons, according to Bell. A warmer tropical Atlantic Ocean tends to lead to longer-lasting hurricane patterns when this pattern is in its “warm phase,” according to Bell.
According to Bell, a warm-phase AMO that favours hurricanes has been in place since the 1950s and has persisted since 1995.
HURRICANE OUTLOOK: 2021
The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and ends on November 30. According to the National Weather Service, hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific Ocean begins on May 15 and ends on November 30. According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, the majority of these storms struck between August and October on both coasts.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an above-average hurricane season this year, following in the footsteps of the record-breaking season of 2020. (NOAA). On May 20, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that this season would bring 13 to 20 named storms. There are six to ten of them expected to become hurricanes, and up to five of them will become major hurricanes, which have winds of at least 111 miles per hour (179 kilometres per hour).
Scientists use a variety of factors, including wind speed and sea surface temperature, to make their predictions. Forecasts made too early in the summer or early fall will have limited significance because the El Nio/La Nia cycle typically manifests itself at that time of year.
Weather forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center categorise hurricane seasons as either above or below normal, depending on the number of tropical storms (between 12 and 28) and hurricanes (between seven and fifteen) (Between four and nine tropical storms and two to four hurricanes).
ARE HURRICANES GETTING STRONGER?
Yes. More often than in previous decades, the world is seeing tropical cyclones of greater intensity (a term that includes fast-rotating storms like hurricanes and typhoons). There has been an increase in the frequency of the strongest tropical cyclones over the past three decades, according to an analysis of 4,000 tropical cyclones from 1979 to 2017, Live Science reported. Another study found that hurricanes that hit Bermuda today are twice as powerful as they were 60 years ago, according to findings published online on Feb. 12 in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Hurricane Irma is the latest storm to be blamed on climate change. So-called zombie storms, or those that die and then resurrect themselves, are becoming more common as a result of climate change, Live Science reports. Hurricane Paulette made landfall in Bermuda in September 2020 as a Category 1 storm, then became a Category 2 storm, and then faded away 5.5 days later. Despite this, she regained strength and became a tropical storm about 300 miles (480 kilometres) off the Azores Islands. This phenomenon could become more common as waters warm up, reviving previously dormant storms, according to Live Science’s report.
WHICH CITIES HAVE THE MOST HURRICANES?
This list is based on HurricaneCity’s hurricane-tracking data since 1871 when the first hurricane records were kept.
Every 1.34 years at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina (affected by 110 hurricanes since 1871)
North Carolina’s Morehead City and Grand Bahamas Island are hit every 1.52 years, while Wilmington and the Cayman Islands (the Caribbean’s most affected area) are hit every 1.69 and 1.73 years, respectively.
Andros Island, Bahamas: Every 1.84 years Great Abaco Island, Bahamas: Every 1.81 years
Every 1.86 years, Bermuda
There are approximately 1.91 years between each Savannah, Georgia, visit.
When is the next time you’ll be in Miami, Florida? (hit 75 times since 1871)
THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE WIND SCALE
A storm is classified as a tropical storm when its wind speeds reach 38 mph (58 km/h). The storm’s wind speed has increased to hurricane proportions, at 74 mph (119 km/h). The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is used to classify hurricane strength, with category 1 being the least severe and category 5 being the strongest. Additionally, some scientists have suggested the creation of a new category 6 hurricane to account for storms that are well above the sustained winds of a category 5.
|Category||Sustained wind speed (mph)||Potential damage|
|1||74-95||Minimal, with some roof leakage, gutter damage, snapped tree branches and toppled trees with shallow roots|
|2||96-110||Moderate, with major roof and siding damage; uprooted trees could block roads; power loss possible for days to weeks|
|3||111-129||Devastating damage, with gable and decking damage, many more uprooted trees and extended power outages|
|4||130-156||Catastrophic damage; roofs and exterior walls will be destroyed; trees will snap; power outages for weeks to months. Large area uninhabitable for weeks or months|
|5||157 or higher||A high fraction of framed houses will be destroyed; power outages for weeks to months; and huge swaths uninhabitable for the same period|
Some scientists argue that other metrics such as storm surge height or rainfall can provide better insight into the ferocity of a storm than just wind speed when determining a storm’s severity and potential damage. National Hurricane Center (NHC) experts say that storm surges are difficult to forecast due to local variations in the ocean floor terrain leading up to a coastline, which can affect their height.
HOW ARE HURRICANES NAMED?
Originally, hurricanes were given their names in honour of a Catholic saint whose feast day they fell on. According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane San Felipe struck on September 13, 1876, the feast day of Saint Phillip. As previously reported by Live Science, if two hurricanes make landfall on the same day, the later one will be given a suffix to distinguish it from the first. Hurricane San Felipe II, for example, struck on Sept. 13, 1928, and was dubbed so because it differed from the 1876 storm.
However, by the 1950s, the naming convention had changed and, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), hurricanes in the United States were given female names based on the alphabet’s international letters. In 1978, the practice of referring to storms solely as “female” storms was abolished.
Meteorologists, despite the seemingly infinite number of possibilities, are not allowed to make up their names. On a six-year cycle, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) publishes an alphabetical list of storm names. The mission of the organisation is to create names that are easy to understand. There are names in English, Spanish, Dutch, and French to accommodate the wide range of people who could be impacted by hurricanes in the region.
“The use of short, distinct given names in written and spoken communications is faster and less susceptible to error than the older, more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. These advantages are particularly important in the exchange of detailed storm information between hundreds of widely dispersed stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea, “According to the organization’s official website.
Whenever a storm has caused such devastation that mentioning it again would be disrespectful, the group gets together and decides to remove the name from consideration. According to the NHC, people no longer have to fear Hurricane Katrina, Ike, Hattie, or Opal’s fury. These names have been retired.
In preparation for the 2021 hurricane season, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released the following list of storm names:
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A HURRICANE
The first step to staying safe during hurricane season is to make a plan. The Ready.gov website has a handy guide for those preparing for hurricanes. All members of the family must be included in the planning process. Fido and Mr Whiskers, too, need a way out of this situation.
This plan includes determining whether it is safe to stay at home during a storm or whether you are in an evacuation zone. Live Science previously reported that many roads could be closed in the event of an evacuation, so there is likely a specific route you should take.
Evacuation zones require that people plan for storm-related accommodations, which can range from staying with relatives and friends to renting a motel room to using a shelter.
Family members may have difficulty getting in touch during a hurricane, so establishing a predetermined meeting place and protocol can be helpful. During a storm, local cellphone lines can become overloaded, so texting may be a better option. You can also use an out-of-state central contact to relay messages between family members who are separated by distance.
Emergency supplies for pets should include a photo of the animal and information about their vaccinations, as recommended by the Humane Society for the United States. If a hotel or shelter does not allow pets, it is also important to find someone who can look after them while you are away. According to the HSUS, if your pet becomes separated from you during an emergency, they should be wearing a collar with the contact information of an out-of-state relative.
HOW TO STORM-PROOF YOUR HOME
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you should prepare your home for flooding well in advance. According to Ready.gov, homeowners can reduce the risk of damage from hurricanes by trimming trees or removing damaged trees and limbs.
Make sure the rain gutters are in place and free of debris as an additional simple step. According to Ready.gov, it’s critical to reinforce the home’s roof, doors, and windows, including the garage door. When the power goes out for an extended period, power generators come in handy. Generators produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, so they must be kept outside at all times.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency pamphlet “Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business,” people who are very serious about prevention may even consider building a “safe room” — a fortified room designed to withstand the punishing winds of a tornado or hurricane (FEMA, 2014).
LIST OF EMERGENCY SUPPLIES
People who live in hurricane-prone areas should also stock up on emergency supplies and keep them in multiple locations in their homes. A basic disaster kit should include the following items, according to Ready.gov:
For at least three days, each person should drink a gallon of water each day.
non-perishable food for three days
A radio powered by either a battery or a crank.
Extensive battery backup for your flashlight
An emergency medical kit
a way to signal for assistance
A face mask to keep the sand out.
Towels, trash cans, and plastic ties are all you need for hygiene.
For repairing broken pipes, you’ll need a wrench or some pliers.
An appliance for opening cans of food, as well as a charger for your phone