No bigger an expert on coastal living than crooner Jimmy Buffett once acknowledged escape is the only way to reason with the hurricane season.
Since few of us have the means to spend the next six months in Paris, as Buffett suggests, we must take more practical measures.
Luckily, in upstate New York, we don’t often have to bear the brunt of major hurricanes, but we get our fair share of thunderstorms and heavy rains.
The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is now 15 days old. The term “season” is a bit misleading, as the East Coast sees most of its storm activity between Labor Day and Halloween. Given the unusual weather events of these times, such as the recent tornadoes in Ohio and other areas of the Midwest, we would do well to be on our guard even at this early date.
National forecasters are calling for two to four major Atlantic hurricanes this year. They consider that an “average season,” but as this decade has shown, it only takes one average hurricane to devastate an area.
Look at what Michael, a Category 3 storm, did last year in Florida and Southwest Georgia and Florence, a Category 1, did in North Carolina.
Then there are above-average storms, like Harvey and Sandy.
The forecasts do not “mean the season is going to be quiet,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “You need to start getting prepared now as with every hurricane season.”
Other meteorology experts back that assessment, particularly given current El Niño conditions. El Niño is a Pacific Ocean phenomenon of warming sea surface temperatures, which results in greater wind shear across the Caribbean Sea.
When El Niño conditions are strong, the winds produced tend to suppress the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes as they cross the ocean from off Africa’s coast. But when El Niño is weak, as it is said to be this year, storms push west largely unimpeded..
All of us would do well to take time now to review their own storm strategies. Most of us are weary of storms but don’t take action until one begins to track in our direction. Having a preparedness plan removes some of the stress from securing one’s home and evacuating in the face of an approaching tempest.
Start with a storm kit. Experts recommend a three-day supply of water — one gallon per person per day — nonperishable food, medications and pet supplies as well as a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, a mobile device charger, a first-aid kit and plenty of batteries.
Also, talk through your family evacuation plan and what needs to be done to your home before you leave.
We can’t reason with the hurricane season. But we can be ready for a storm’s approach.