It is hard to believe summer has arrived already. It seems that just a month or so ago I was writing about ice storms and blizzards. Now, we have passed by the spring tornadoes and floods and are into the hurricane season.
For some people, the first signs of summer are outdoor barbeques, swimming pools and vacations. For me, it is reading the hurricane predictions for the upcoming season.
For 2007, experts are again predicting a "very active" hurricane season in the Atlantic. William Gray, a member of the well-known Colorado State University forecasting team, said the active pattern that has persisted the past few years will continue in 2007, and likely will exist for the next 10 years or so.
The forecast calls for 17 named storms, with nine of those becoming hurricanes. Five are expected to develop into Category 3 or above storms. These storms would have wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour. The team’s predictions are based on oceanic and atmospheric conditions worldwide.
The team has a history of being mostly accurate on their forecasts. However, last year, their predictions fell short. Only 10 named storms developed, with five becoming hurricanes. The forecast had called for 17 named storms, with nine developing into hurricanes.
Already this season, there have been two tropical storms develop in the Atlantic. Andrea and Barry both formed early in the season. To read more about these storms, see the Around the World column on page 98.
Most hurricane-prone areas have preparations in place for dealing with these devastating storms. I have a house in Florida, and I know everyone there puts a lot of effort into preparing for hurricanes. The public response is very capable, with well-tested plans and plenty of resources.
The emergency management director in Florida said in a recent article that he is confident his state is ready. He said they have been preparing for disasters year round and performed a statewide hurricane exercise in May. On a private level, individuals are given plenty of advice, announcements and notice when hurricanes are approaching. Probably the most difficult aspect is making last minute preparations, if a person has not stocked up in advance.
States along the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico are also vulnerable to these storms. I hope that all areas affected by hurricanes make adequate preparations. You never know when or where a devastating storm will hit.
Lessons learned from some storms in the past are a great way to improve preparedness plans. While Katrina is one of the first hurricanes that come to mind, there are many devastating others to study. Andrew, Charlie, Ivan, Camille, Wilma are just a few.
I recently read that FEMA has vowed to be ready for the hurricane season. David Paulison, FEMA director, said his agency is ready and the mistakes made with Hurricane Katrina won’t be repeated. He said the agency will be more proactive and will move quicker in a response effort. Still, the agency director admits that not all plans will be ready by June 1, the start of the hurricane season. I guess that goes to show that you can never begin preparing too early.
If you are interested in improving your plans – whether they’re for a hurricane or any other potential risk, you can check www.drj.com for our article archives and for other helpful links. We also have monthly Webinars to assist you in your planning.
You’ll also find information on our upcoming conference to be held Sept. 16-19, 2007 in San Diego, Calif. Register early because we already have 615 people signed up. Download a brochure and see the exciting lineup of sessions, featuring co-author of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Sen. Paul Sarbanes.
"Appeared in DRJ's Summer 2007 Issue"