By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON – Friday, 9:30 am August 18, 2023
On August 10th, NOAA increased their prediction from a near-normal level of activity to a 60% chance of above-normal activity. This takes into account the five storms that have already occurred, including one hurricane.
An average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
The increase is due to record-warm Atlantic Sea surface temperatures that are forecast to counterbalance the effects of El Nino and associated upper-level wind shear. So far, El Nino has limited development, but may not be as strong for the remainder of the hurricane season. Just 10 days after this forecast, look at today’s current activity!
If you haven’t done so already, NOW is the time to prepare for the remainder of the season, as we are in the peak of tropical activity. A one-stop shopping for being prepared before, during and after a storm can be found at: National Hurricane Preparedness | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (noaa.gov)
Let’s go over some things that are important to know when looking at tropical forecasts. First, the only official forecasts are from the National Hurricane Center (nhc.noaa.gov) and National Weather Service (weather.gov). Beware of social media posts from any others that contradict the NHC and National Weather Service.
Once a forecast cone is issued for a tropical storm or hurricane, a HUGE mistake many people make is to focus on the cone itself. The cone ONLY represents where the center of the storm will be and 1/3 of the time, the center will not remain within the cone. Also, don’t focus on the skinny black line within the cone, this just represents the center of the cone itself.
Impacts (high winds, tornadoes, and flooding) most often occur well outside of the cone. Finally, high winds, tornadoes, and especially flooding can occur well inland. Tropical storms and hurricanes are not just a coastal problem.
Finally, another mistake people make is, “I’ve been through a tropical storm or hurricane (X), and we were fine. I’m going to stay put.” Every storm is different! Instead, find out what specific impacts will occur at your location, and listen and act on the recommendations from the National Weather Service and Emergency Management officials.
Stay aware, keep up to date with the tropical forecasts which are issued four times a day, and be prepared in order to protect yourself and your loved ones.