Jun 23 2010

Preparing for a strong hurricane season

DSC02371On June 10, the towns of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands once again combined their disaster preparation expos in one event at Kiawah’s Sandcastle. With representatives from the municipalities, as well as storm experts and storm preparation service providers, the Disaster Prep Expo was a great, one-stop-shop to pick up everything you need to be prepared not only for hurricanes, but floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters. Kiawah Island Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker, along with the Town and Sandcastle staff, did an excellent job organizing this year’s event, and more than 80 residents from both islands were in attendance.

Hurricane season officially begins on June 1 (and ends on November 30), and for coastal residents, it has never been more imperative to be prepared for hurricane season; and part of being prepared is being aware.

When remembering all of the recent disasters to hit our coast, such as hurricane Katrina in 2005, we now have an even larger reason to be concerned. The BP oil spill presents further issues and questions as to how a hurricane in the Gulf would affect, and most presumably, devastate, the surrounding areas.

Every year, people turn to various sources for a hint of what to expect out of the Atlantic Ocean. William Gray, of Colorado State University, is one of the most popular and analyzed hurricane forecasters in the United States. Along with his protege, Philip Klotzbach, he has spent many years analyzing data and developing models that are designed to reflect an understanding of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Basin, the most inconsistent tropical storm corridor in the world. For more information or to view the full report, visit www.hurricane.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts

For 2010, Klotzbach and Gray are estimating that 10 hurricanes will form (average is 5.9), with 18 named storms (average is 9.6), 90 named storm days (average is 49.1), 40 hurricane days (average is 24.5), 5 major (Category 3-5) hurricanes (average is 2.3) and 13 major hurricane days (average is 5.0). The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall and Caribbean major hurricane activity is estimated to be well above its long-period average, and they expect the Atlantic basin Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity in 2010 to be approximately 195 percent of the long-term average.

Weak La Nina conditions will not help protect the coast with vertical wind shears as it did in 2009, and anomalously warm sea surface temperatures have also increased this year’s predictions. Another important factor, Klotzbach and Gray noted, is that we are in the midst of a multi-decadal era of more major hurricane activity.

Name that ’cane 2010

There are six lists of names that rotate every year for naming hurricanes. Names are typically removed from the lists each year as significant storms names are retired, like Hazel (1954), Fifi (1974), Hugo (1989), Andrew (1992) and Katrina (2005). Since tropical cyclones were first named in 1953, 70 names have been retired, the first two being Carol and Hazel in 1954. Paloma was the second strongest November hurricane on record, reaching Category 4 status before hitting Cuba and destroying an estimated 1400 homes and causing $300 million in damage.

The naming of hurricanes has been traced back to a tradition in the West Indies that is still practiced today, where storms were named for the Catholic Saint’s Day on which they landed. For example, hurricane San Filipe struck Puerto Rico on September 13, 1876. When another storm struck exactly fifty years later, the storm was christened San Filipe the Second.

Hurricanes are named alphabetically, although the letters “Q” and “U” are always left out and the lists only go to “W”. If the list is used up for the year and storms are still forming, the storms are then named alphabetically from the Greek alphabet, Alpha to Omega.

 

2010 Hurricane Names

Alex

Bonnie

Colin

Danielle

Earl

Fiona

Gaston

Hermine

Igor

Julia

Karl

Lisa

Matthew

Nicole

Otto

Paula

Richard

Shary

Tomas

Virginie

Walter

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