The beginning of June marks the start of the hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin (Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico), which lasts until December, peaking from mid-August to late October. There is a consensus in the meteorological community that this year’s hurricane season will feature above average storm activity as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center predicts a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season. After a near miss last year with Category 5 Hurricane Dorian – which devastated the Bahamas–the communities in the Atlantic Basin will be confronted with a dual threat–a natural disaster amid a pandemic.COVID-19 – THE ADDITIONAL CHALLENGE
The COVID-19 pandemic adds another layer of complexity to hurricane response planning in an environment already challenged by complicated logistics and limited resources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates the damage from the 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria at $265 billion. Federal, state, and local resources are already under logistical and budgetary strain combating the pandemic. While COVID-19 is currently showing signs of abatement, the specter of a second wave in fall will coincide with the peak of Atlantic hurricane season.
74% of tropical storm days, 87% of category 1-2 hurricane days, and approximately 95% of category 3-5 hurricane days fall between mid-August and mid-October
When assessing the potential impact of a hurricane to your home and your business, it is vital to consider the risk of all hurricanes—not just major ones. As you prepare, be aware that this year’s hurricane season will be different in four major ways.
We can expect the pandemic to affect communications during the hurricane season. Social distancing measures will limit the capacity and speed with which telecommunication and power companies can repair and restore communications in the aftermath of a storm. Individuals and organizations in hurricane affected areas should plan for even longer periods without internet or phone service. If needed, Global Guardian can provide satellite phone capabilities to help clients fill this gap.
COVID-19 will also have an impact on how we approach sheltering and evacuation. To prevent the spread of infection, storm shelter capacities will be capped, personal protective equipment (PPE) will need to be provided, and evacuees will be dispersed over more shelter locations than in past years. Non-congregate sheltering–the use of hotels, schools, and other dormitories–will be employed to limit the risk of infection, especially to at-risk individuals. Outside storm surge zones, individuals at a higher risk for COVID-19 may elect to shelter in place if their dwellings are built to code.
3. MEDICAL FACILITIES
Georgia, Florida, and Texas have some of the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. The pandemic has put a special strain on the already busy and underfinanced city hospitals serving low-income populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In Georgia, there is concern that there may not be enough hospital beds to treat a new wave of COVID-19 patients. Moreover, whether it comes to national and out-of-state medical or logistical support this hurricane season, help is not likely to arrive on the same scale. As a recent RAND analysis put it, “With outbreaks across the entire nation, an area hit by a hurricane is less likely to get aid from other states or regions. Federal resources are limited in authority and capacity.”
Just as temporary supply shortages in essentials were commonplace at the onset of the pandemic, hurricane essentials as well as protective gear (masks and gloves) and disinfectants will see increased demand as the hurricane season develops. Individuals and businesses will need to prepare their hurricane emergency supplies in advance so as not to encounter difficulties when there is a run on supplies.
A devastating hurricane can happen in any season irrespective of the long-range prediction. The presence of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more important to prepare and plan ahead. A second viral wave in the fall could emerge near the peak of hurricane season presenting additional health risks as well as complicating relief and recovery efforts.
The upshot of the situation is that government emergency response departments and operation centers have a head start on hurricane preparation this year. Businesses and individuals have the opportunity now to establish emergency plans and procedures to mitigate the threats of the 2020 hurricane season in a pandemic environment.
For a link to the CDC Hurricane Preparedness guide, click here.
2020 HURRICANE SEASON OUTLOOK
FACTORS AT PLAY
Vertical Wind Shear – The change in speed or direction of wind over a relatively short distance or time period. A lower vertical wind shear enables storms to form and strengthen, whereas, stronger wind shears disrupt storm formation and growth.
Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) – Warm ocean temperatures are the primary fuel source for tropical cyclones. Warmer than average sea surface temperatures mean more powerful, damaging storms.
ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) Cycle – El Niño events (a period of warmer than normal SSTs in the equatorial Pacific) tend to, on average, end up suppressing tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Basin and enhancing activity in the west Pacific. La Niña events (a period of cooler than normal SSTs in the equatorial Pacific) result in a greater area of low vertical wind shear, allowing more and stronger Atlantic hurricanes to form and develop.
The combination of above average SSTs, warm land temperatures and an increasing likelihood of La Niña points to an Atlantic hurricane season that will feature above-average storm activity with an above-average probability of a major hurricane making landfall.
PROBABILITIES OF MAJOR HURRICANE LANDFALL
|CONTINENTAL U.S. COASTLINE||69%||52%|
|U.S. EAST COAST (INCLUDING FLORIDA PENINSULA)||45%||31%|
|GULF COAST (FLORIDA PANHANDLE – BROWNSVILLE, TX)||40%||30%|
PREPARATION CHECKLIST & CONSIDERATIONS
Preparation is key to ensuring your emergency response plans are well-executed in the event of a serious hurricane. Outlined below is a recommended checklist to follow when prepping for hurricane season.
Take warnings seriously: Put shutters and other hurricane protections in place when advised to do so.
Be sure to ensure you have backup power and communications: This includes generators and satellite phones or other devices. If you need rentals, Global Guardian can assist with these items.
Ensure extra fuel for vehicles and generators: These should also be secured, locked down, or hidden, as they will become invaluable after a storm.
Gather important supplies, including:
- Solar-powered lights and phone chargers
- Basic, battery-operated FM radio to receive news such as food distribution centers and available emergency services
- At least 60 days of prescription medication
- Flash lights/headlamps
- Spare batteries
- Extra glasses/contacts
- Medical kits–be sure to keep close and waterproof
- Medical supplies, including masks and thermometers
- Nonperishable food
- Bottled water
- Empty bottles (gallons of milk, juice, etc.) to fill with tap water and be used as drinking water
- Clean-up materials such as machetes, work gloves, chainsaws, and axes
- Spare vehicle tires (roads will be covered with sharp debris such as nails)
- Fans for cooling and drying saturated parts of the building/home after the storm passes
Prior to the storm, be sure to:
- Fill a bathtub with water for flushing the toilet
- Have a backup plan in place, which includes where you will go if your home is breached by wind/water or destroyed Identifying where the nearest evacuation center is
- Wear boots or shoes during and after the storm, no sandals or flip flops
- Be prepared to move quickly if the home needs to be evacuated
- Prepare emergency power sources and an emergency kit
- Be sure to use water-proof containers to store everything. Contact your local fire department, and power and water companies if you use an electric-powered medical equipment at home
After the storm, please consider: A return to your water-damaged home or business may depend on the availability of N95 masks. N95s are currently being prioritized for medical and other frontline workers, but are also needed for those entering spaces with mold.
STANDING BY TO SUPPORT
Global Guardian's Tairon Coronel leading relief efforts on the ground during Hurricane Dorian - September 2019
In 2017 and 2018, Global Guardian assisted multiple hotels, resorts, and oil & gas companies with evacuations, intelligence, communications, and physical security in the wake of devastating hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and several Caribbean islands. Global Guardian helped evacuate over 300 people from multiple locations by securing large-capacity boats, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and seaplanes to reach inaccessible areas.
Global Guardian is standing by in the event you or your company need support during the upcoming hurricane season. Our services include:
To download the full PDF report, click here. To request security or assistance with any of the above services, contact our 24/7 Operations Center by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, calling + 1 (703)-566-9463 or clicking below.