Hurricanes 101 | The 2018 Hurricane Season

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is in full force, and recent storms indicate that the coastal region is in for a pummeling this year. To help raise awareness for storm preparedness, we suggest that you keep the following information throughout the 2018 season.

Hurricane season starts June 1st and runs through November 30th. This is when tropical storm conditions are most favorable for hurricane development. A tropical disturbance becomes a tropical storm and is given a name when sustained winds around the center of the storm reach 39 mph. A tropical storm is upgraded to hurricane status when sustained winds reach 74 mph. Last year, hurricanes Harvey and Maria wreaked havoc. Harvey delivered a beating to southern Texas, while Maria — the 10th most intense hurricane on record — destroyed parts of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. Both of these storms ranked among the top five most costly hurricanes in United States history.

Last year’s season ended with 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes, slightly more than what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had predicted. The Atlantic basin typically averages 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Each spring, NOAA forecasts for the upcoming hurricane season. This year’s storm activity was projected at 75, which will be at normal or above-normal levels. NOAA also predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms — those with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of these, five to nine could become hurricanes, with one to four turning into major hurricanes (category 3 or above).

Forecasting, though helpful, cannot provide the most critical information to residents living in hurricane-prone areas such as the Gulf Coast. Similarly, coastal regions along the Carolinas and even as far north as Boston can be at high risk for hurricane-force winds. This year’s predictions indicate an increased risk for these areas specifically.

NOAA’s predictions are based on storm formations, not landfalls. What this means is that although forecasts predict an extremely active hurricane season, some of these storms might never hit land or harm anyone. It is important to note that hurricanes are formed by complicated weather variables, global trends and weather patterns in place as the storms approach land, making it difficult to predict impact, according to the CPC.

The storms of 2017 caused devastating damage, but according to a recent NOAA report, we gained the most accurate storm-path predictions on record, which helped communities prepare for the hurricanes and potentially saved lives. Improvements in computer processing, analytics and modeling have contributed to the greatest predictive power increase of technology and science to date.

Overall, there may be severe weather and destruction, but with the trend of increasingly accurate storm forecasts and computer modeling, we will better be able to see these storms coming.

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