It’s Hurricane Season and Time to Prepare in Alabama – Part 1

By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency

CLANTON –Wednesday, 9 am June 1, 2021

Unfortunately, for a third year in a row, this will be a very active tropical season.  As you can see from the graphic above, a tropical depression will likely form today or tomorrow, reaching south Florida this weekend.  Another system north of the Bahamas will likely not develop, but these show an active season has begun!

Now is the time to prepare as additional systems in the Gulf of Mexico are possible at any time. 

2021 had 21 named including seven hurricanes, four of which were major hurricanes.  There were two US hurricane landfalls and six US tropical storm landfalls.  Unfortunately, as shown in the graphic below, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) says there is a 65% chance of an above-normal season.  The reasons include very warm sea surface water temperatures, weaker winds aloft which allow storms to both grow and get stronger, and greater than normal systems moving off the African coast later this summer.

Since the Gulf of Mexico waters are much warmer than the Atlantic Ocean in June and July, tropical activity is more likely in the Gulf.  These systems can develop both quickly and near the coast, leaving little time for preparation or evacuation.  That’s why it’s important to be proactive now and be prepared.

To illustrate this point, did you realize an area of low pressure developed in the northern Gulf just south of Alabama on May 22nd?  Fortunately, this system quickly moved onshore before tropical development occurred.  But, this is a classic case of how quickly these systems can form and leave little to no time for preparation.

To learn more about developing or reviewing your tropical action plan, go to https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes and https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness 

Tomorrow I will talk about where to (and not to) find reliable weather information, misconceptions people have, and how to interpret various tropical storm/hurricane forecast products.

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