The Colorado State University (CSU) Meteorology Project released their initial outlook for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
CSU released its official 2022 outlook on April 7, followed in May by the National Hurricane Center’s first detailed season forecast. Both will reflect more conclusive environmental data and an expanded understanding of how climate change makes hurricanes stronger, bigger, wetter, and more dangerous.
On December 9th, scientists at the Colorado State University (CSU) Meteorology Project released their initial outlook for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which starts on June 1st. Their conclusion? The Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard should prepare for the sixth consecutive above-normal hurricane season.
Many communities and families -- from the Gulf Coast, across the Southeast, and up the Atlantic Coast -- are paying close attention to these early predictions as they continue to recover from 2021’s Hurricane Ida, one of the most damaging hurricanes on record in the U.S.
Last May, after a four-year gap, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its first comprehensively updated data on climate change, adding twelve new climate change indicators and several years of data. This data is not only allowing scientists better predict how tropical storms and hurricanes will behave, but it is also helping the public “connect the dots” to make sense of the changes they are experiencing.
The 2022 Hurricane Season will be another very active and unpredictable hurricane season, with larger and more intense storms. If you live in an area affected by hurricanes, now is the time to prepare for the torrential rain, high winds, and flooding – and for the widespread loss of power, communications, and mobility – that usually comes with an above-average hurricane season.
Could Hurricane Ida Become the New Normal?
We only have to look back at Hurricane Ida‘s landfall on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast on September 29, 2021, and its long destructive path across the Southeast and up the Eastern Seaboard to appreciate how much more intense, widespread, and unpredictabl hurricanes have become.
On the morning of September 28th, 2021, Hurricane Ida was an 85 mph Category 1. Less than 24 hours later, Ida slammed the Louisiana coastline with winds of 150 mph (close to a Category 5 storm). Rapid intensification is defined as an increase of 35 mph over 24 hours before landfall. Ida took just 6 hours to reach that threshold overnight, climbing to 150 mph before landfall on September 29th.
Ida churned inland, bringing catastrophic winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes, flooding, and life-threatening storm surge along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Continuing up the East coast as a post-tropical cyclone, Ida dropped a historic deluge on New York City four days later, bringing life to a standstill.
More than 1 million lost power in Louisiana alone, many for extended periods. It took untilJanuary 18, 2022 – 142 days after Ida’s landfall – to restore permanent power and safe drinking water at Grand Isle, Louisiana. Forty-thousand more in Mississippi and 250,000 in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts went dark.
Over ten days, Ida caused at least 91 confirmed deaths, 61% in the Northeast. The top three circumstances of death were 1) drowning (storm surge, flooding), 2) vehicular (90% of these drowned in submerged cars), and 3) power outage related (including unsafe use of portable generators).
Intensity Continues to Trend Upwards
An important part of preparing for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season is understanding that Hurricane Ida was not an outlier. Instead, it is part of a dangerous trend of rapid intensification. A larger proportion of Category 4-5 hurricanes are making landfall in the U.S., inflicting progressively higher damage and casualties.
Before Ida in 2021, Laura, Hanna, and Zeta (2020) were three of seven tropical cyclones whose damages exceeded $1 billion. They were preceded by Dorian (2019), Michael and Florence (2018), and Harvey (2017).
Climate scientist and Director of the Texas Tech Climate Center, Katharine Hayhoe, told CNN’s Rachel Ramirez that, when it comes to making it through a hurricane safely, intensity is a bigger problem than increased frequency.
As the planet heats up, 90% of the excess heat that is trapped by greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed by our oceans. That heat becomes supercharged fuel for hurricanes, increases wind speed and the amount of water that storms can hold. Over the past 15 years, the amount of heat being trapped has doubled.
More heat, water and higher winds create more deadly storm surges, spread across larger areas, and dump more rain. Satellite data also confirms that hurricanes move more slowly and stay stronger further inland, putting people far beyond our traditional hurricane zones at risk.
Expect More, Stronger and Earlier Storms in 2022
After the 2020 and 2021 Hurricane Seasons, it’s hard for most of us to remember what “normal” is. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) computes norms based on data from a 30-year period of record, currently 1991-2020, which is updated every decade. All signs point to another “overactive” hurricane season in 2022.
A “typical” above-normal hurricane season would have 11 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes (Category 3-5). Both 2020 and 2021 significantly exceeded even “above-normal” expectations. 2021 brought 21 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes while record-breaking 2020 brought 30 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes.
The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season was also the seventh year in a row with at least one named storm developing before the season’s official June 1 start date. In response, in 2022, the National Hurricane Center will begin its daily tropical outlooks on May 15th instead of waiting until the season officially starts on June 1st in order to provide us with more time to prepare and more timely information.
PREPARING FOR NEW NORMALS
NOW is the time to start preparing for the 2022 Hurricane Season.
Contacts, circumstances and emergency instructions can change every year. The most important steps you should take early each year
- Assess your household’s vulnerability, and
- Use that information to create/update a Personalized Family Hurricane Emergency Plan.
Depending on where you live, that includes:
- Preparing ahead for torrential rain, high winds, and flooding and
- A backup plan for the widespread loss of power, communications, and mobility that usually come with an above-average hurricane season.
This list will get you started, and you can find details, links, template, and resources to at https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes and https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness
Keep in Mind.. Extended Power Outages Increase Hurricane Danger
Each year, millions in the U.S. lose power during hurricanes and tropical storms. More than just being disruptive, power outages during hurricanes and other severe weather take a direct toll on our health and safety. As you make your family Hurricane Plan, carefully consider whether whether a family member has a chronic illness, other health condition that makes them vulnerable if power goes out. condition or injury or when am outage is widespread and/or length
Lost Power can mean missed alerts and loss of access to emergency support.
Increasingly, storm alerts, warnings, evacuation information, and other emergency updates come via the internet, landline or cell phone, TV, or radio all of which depend on either electricity or a constant access to freshly charged batteries. Studies of power outages alongside patterns of well-being during and after hurricanes show that safety and family well-being correlates with our ability to receive alerts, and to communicate our situation if we need help.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene blasted the East Coast from Virginia to Vermont. In the aftermath, the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) recommended that homeowners in storm-vulnerable areas purchase backup generators, and follow best practices for installation and safe operation.
PREPARING FOR NEW NORMALS
How can you get ready? The most important thing you can do is to create a WRITTEN Hurricane plan NOW and share and review it with your family and household. This basic list will get you started, and you can get more details on all of these steps, including templates for your own written plan, at https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness and https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
- First, determine your personal hurricane risk. Learn what you can expect where you live, and plan accordingly. If you live in hurricane-prone areas, remember that although the season officially begins June 1, the 2020 season ramped up in May.
Keep in mind that hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Rain, tornadoes, and other damaging weather can linger inland from landfall, as far as the Midwest and New England.
- Create two lists: a contact list that includes at least one person outside the hurricane-prone area, and a hurricane emergency supply to keep replenished throughout the season
- Determine if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. Identify who will issue hurricane evacuation orders and how. Develop an Evacuation Plan for your household and also identify locations where you will ride out the storm if needed.
If anyone in your household is disabled or at-risk, this is the time to identify any additional help you’ll need, and how you will get that help during an emergency.
- Prepare your home and property for the coming hurricane season. Identify your vulnerabilities, especially if you lose power and/or water and are housebound. After 2020’s hurricanes and winter ice storms so many homeowners invested in backup generators that even the largest supplier, Generac, had trouble keeping up with demand. So, plan ahead.
- Review/update insurance policies.
- Collect hard copies of your important papers so you can access them when needed. Create an external digital backup.