The 2019 hurricane forecast calls for a near-normal season that could bring up to 15 named storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and officials encourage people to prepare as hurricane season begins June 1.
Of the possible nine to 15 storms — which could be in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean — four to eight could become hurricanes and two to four could reach major hurricane status of a Category 3 or higher, NOAA predicts. The ranges are provided with 70 percent confidence, according to NOAA.
Steve Pfaff with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina said the Carolinas should prepare like Hazel or Hugo are coming back, given the area’s vulnerability.
“Just because it’s a near-normal year doesn’t mean we don’t need to prepare,” Pfaff said Thursday morning following NOAA releasing this year’s forecast. “We need to get ready. There’s just too much at risk.”
An ongoing El Nino combined with warmer-than-average-sea-surface temperatures and and enhanced West African monsoon could bring increased hurricane activity, NOAA reports.
U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a news conference Thursday that NOAA has improved the forecasting of hurricane tracks by 30 percent in the last decade.
NOAA’s Atlantic storm predictions have been accurate the last six years, Pfaff said. In a normal year, he said, there are 10 named storms, six of which become hurricanes and 2.5 become major hurricanes.
NOAA’s outlook predicts a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 30 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Dr. Daniel Kaniewski, acting deputy FEMA administrator, said it only takes one hurricane to make landfall to create destruction to a community. Kaniewski said it’s important to have flood insurance, adding after Hurricane Harvey, those who were uninsured received $3,000 in relief from FEMA, while those who were insured received $117,000.
Building a hurricane kit with food, water and medications for at least 72 hours is crucial, Kaniewski said, along with making a communication plan in case phone lines are down and be financially ready with cash on hand.
More storm and disaster preparedness tips may be found at ready.gov.