Here Be Monsters! Hurricane Forecasters Expect To Map ‘Busy’ Hurricane Season In Atlantic and Caribbean.

Image: Public domain. Could 2024 turn out like 2005 with hurricanes everywhere?
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Weather forecasters are predicting that there will almost certainly be hurricanes in the Atlantic this year and that they will probably be monsters.

The primary source of scientific information about hurricanes is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Miami which sends aircraft directly into the eyes of hurricanes to see what is going on.

The WP-3D aircraft, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the WC-130J, flown by the U.S. Air Force Reserve, fly straight into the storms’ eyewall, usually three times during a flight.

The aim of these riskly trips is to gather information that can help officials on the ground make decisions such as when to order people to evacuate.

The NOAA publishes a variety of types of maps of hurricanes on its Web site, which are updated every few hours. Although the public can go straight to the Web site, many members of the public get their weather information relayed by TV and radio stations and by weather apps on their phones.

But all the information comes from NOAA.

U.S. officials who predict, prepare for and respond to natural disasters were sending out the message to Florida residents on Friday–There will almost certainly be hurricanes this year, so even if you don’t live on the coast, you need to have some kind of a plan.

“Everybody in Florida is at risk,” said Michael Brennan, director of the National Hurricane Center.

Just as a pre-season warning, the Florida capital of Tallahassee would hit by high speed gusts just below hurricane force last week causing damage to vulnerable mobile home parks and other structures.The officials in Sanford brought along two “hurricane hunter” planes used in the daredevil business of flying into the middle of storms to gather data about their intensity and direction.

The WP-3D aircraft, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the WC-130J, flown by the U.S. Air Force Reserve, fly straight into the storms’ eyewall, usually three times during a flight.

The aim of these riskly trips is to gather information that can help officials on the ground make decisions such as when to order people to evacuate.

NOAA’s propeller plane typically has 11-17 people on board during flights through hurricanes, including the crew and scientists. Since flights usually last eight hours, the crew members bring plenty of snack food, and there is a microwave, refrigerator and a hot plate for cooking more elaborate meals.

Although the rides can be very bumpy, sometimes they aren’t as turbulent as expected and crew members don’t realize that they already are in the eye of a hurricane, said William Wysinger, a NOAA flight engineer who has flown on a dozen missions through hurricanes.

“I liken it to riding an old wooden roller coaster during the worst of times,” Wysinger said.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting that the upcoming Atlantic and Gulf season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, will exceed the yearly average of seven tropical storms and seven hurricanes, and that three of the storms will be major. Not all hurricanes make landfall.

Since records started in 1851 the two years with the most named storms were 2005 and 2920, when forcasters ran out of alphabetical names for storms and just started to use the letters of the Greek alphabet as backups for the late season storms.

Floridians would be wise to remember 20 years ago when four hurricanes made landfall consecutively in just a matter of weeks, crisscrossing the state and carving paths of disaster, said David Sharp, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida.

“Many remember the ravages of the Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne — blue tarps and pink insulation everywhere, along with displaced lives,” Sharp said. “Scars upon the land but also scars upon the psyche of our people.”

Hundreds of thousands of new residents have arrived in Florida since the last hurricane season, and it’s important that they know what to expect and how to prepare, said Robbie Berg, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.

“Talk to your neighbors,” Berg said. “A lot of people in Florida have experienced these storms and they can help you through a storm if you’ve never been through one before.”

But the approximately 4.4 million people living in low-elevation coastal zones (LECZs), coastal areas less than 10 meters above sea level, paid a particularly heavy price.

Coastal cities in the Caribbean face a dangerous confluence of heavy rain, erosion, and damaged mangroves which increase their vulnerability to extreme events. As a result, more than 36 million people have been affected by storms and flooding in the Caribbean since 1900, according to the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT).

Each hurricane season provides a laboratory for climate modelers to test standards for hurricane-resistant windows, foundations and roofs. The unprecedented maximum gust speed of Hurricane Irma (185 mph) exceeded the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) building code regulations for Antigua & Barbuda Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Montserrat.

Looking to the future, building codes may need to accommodate higher wind speeds given the increasing size and magnitude of hurricanes.

Given that building codes are still voluntary in many Caribbean countries, it is critical that standards become embedded in government construction bids and contracts, including those structures financed by donor institutions.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID), for example, requires their funding for hospitals in the Caribbean to adhere to strict codes for disaster resilience.

Sources: VOA, news agencies, NOAA, blogs.
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