By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON – Monday, 9 am May 4, 2020
May 3-9 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Now is the time to prepare for the coming season. Although the official National Hurricane Center seasonal forecast doesn’t come out until later this month, all indications are for an active season. Just keep in mind the forecast doesn’t predict where the storms will form or where they go. As is said over and over, it only takes one to produce massive impacts.
There’s a myth that tropical activity doesn’t start until June 1st. Wrong! Tropical storms and hurricanes don’t care about arbitrary “official” season dates. In 2018, Tropical Storm Alberto formed on May 20th, moved northward through the Gulf of Mexico, and into Alabama on May 29th.
What is known is the Gulf of Mexico is the favored region for tropical storm and hurricane development during May – June and continuing into the fall.
A lot of people don’t take Tropical Storms and some Hurricanes seriously. “It’s just a Tropical Storm” or “It’s only a Category 1”, are common statements. The category and the actual impacts are significantly different.
Tropical Storms and Category 1-5 Hurricanes are defined by wind speeds only. However, there are many other impacts such as storm surge near the coast with both flooding and tornadoes that can occur well inland affecting anyone in Alabama.
So, hopefully, you will go to the following website and learn more about developing a plan and being prepared for this coming season at https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness
Finally, there is a section on this website about developing an Evacuation Plan. With the pandemic situation, will your current evacuation plan work? Now is a great time to review your plan so that it will accommodate health orders or conditions caused by COVID-19.