NOAA Predicts Above-Normal Hurricane Season; Bay Region Prepares

The official start of hurricane season is June 1, but Alberto already roared in as 2018’s first named Atlantic storm, causing strong wind and flash flooding in multiple states.

At the same time, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued its preseason predictions for the 2018 hurricane season as a whole. While NOAA’s Atlantic outlook shows a 40% chance of a near-normal season, the agency also predicts a 35% chance of an above-normal season.

The 2017 hurricane season caused nearly $370 billion in damage.

NOAA’s outlook calls for ten to 16 named storms, five to nine hurricanes, and one to four major hurricanes in the Atlantic region this season (June 1 through November 30). Most of those storms are expected during the peak months of August through October.

The historic 2017 storm season crippled places like the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas, with a staggering 438 fatalities and more than $369.6 billion in damages, according to the National Hurricane Center.

To prepare for a worst-case scenario on the Chesapeake Bay, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and all of the Bay states participated in the 2018 National Level Exercise earlier this month. The emergency preparedness exercise was based around a direct hit to the Hampton Roads/ Chesapeake Bay region by a fictional Category 4 hurricane named Cora. From May 1 to May 11, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington D.C. and several military branches participated in the drill.

The simulation tested pre-landfall preparedness and warnings, emergency response, and managing long-term power outages. And emergency leaders point out, while state and federal agencies prepare for the worst, the public should take their own steps.

“Individuals, businesses and community organizations should also take the opportunity before the beginning of 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season…to prepare themselves for potential damage,” said Virginia Department of Emergency Management State Coordinator for Emergency Management Dr. Jeff Stern. “As we saw in 2017,…the potential for widespread devastation is very real with each of these storms.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano