This year, we begun our annual hurricane season in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico with the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasting a 65% chance for an above normal season and predicting that there is a 70% chance of having 14 to 21 named storms, of which six to 10 could develop into hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes (Categories 3-5). So, what have we seen so far?
Tropical Storm Alex
On May 31, a large low-pressure area developed near the Yucatán Peninsula. This was partially related to the Pacific basin remnants of Hurricane Agatha interacting with an upper-level trough over the Gulf of Mexico.
What became tropical storm Alex produced significant rainfall across western Cuba and South Florida, which resulted in flash flooding across both regions. During a 30-hour period on June 2–3, Paso Real de San Diego in the province of Pinar del Río recorded about 12 inches (301 mm) of rain. Playa Girón in Matanzas received over 8 inches (193 mm) and Santiago de las Vegas in Havana received nearly 7 inches (171 mm) of rain during the same period. There were four storm related deaths in Cuba, and numerous homes and bridges were damaged by the flooding. Tropical Storm Alex faded after it reached Florida and then moved into the Atlantic leaving as the first storm of the 2022 Hurricane Season.
Potential Tropical Cyclone
On June 23, a tropical wave moved off Africa’s coast and started to produce a wide area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Due to the threat the system posed to the Lesser Antilles, the NHC initiated advisories on the system as Potential Tropical Cyclone Two on June 27. A NOAA Hurricane Hunters aircraft indicated the system had not yet shown a well-defined closed circulation. As of 11:00 p.m. AST (03:00 UTC, June 29) June 28, Potential Tropical Cyclone Two is located within 60 nautical miles of 10.9°N 62.8°W, about 105 mi (170 km) west-northwest of Trinidad and 430 mi (690 km) east-southeast of Curacao.
The minimum barometric pressure is 1011 mbar (29.85 inHg), and the system is moving west-northwest at 23 knots (26 mph; 43 km/h). Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center of Two.
What can we expect?
Tropical storm warnings are in effect for countries including Curacao, Aruba and the coastlines of both Colombia and Venezuela. As the potential tropical cycle storm 2 moves to the west, it could increase in strength and become the first named hurricane in the Atlantic this year.
This year’s forecast estimates upwards of 20 named storms with 2-4 directly impacting the GoM region. This may have a direct impact on us here and forecasts shows this is something we must all prepare for. Two other potential systems are also currently being tracked, with one in the northern Gulf of Mexico having a 40 percent chance of development over the next two days and expected to impact Texas.
Peak hurricane season arrives in September, meaning we’re on the upswing of what atmospheric scientists and hurricane experts have already predicted to be an unusually active season. That marks the seventh busy season in a row.
What can we do?
Here at Onward, we update our Hurricane preparedness plan each year before the season in order to have everything up to date for the new season and ensure we are following the latest guidance and have the best procedures possible in the industry! This includes, being proactive in preparing our loved ones, ourselves, and establishing a consistent chain of communication prior to when impacts occur.
Our Crisis Management plan is formed in a way where it is understood and accepted that each crisis is different and unique to the situation and thus, procedures must be followed correctly, and any deviations discussed with the team. Having these plans in place, creating lists for necessary emergency items, contacts, and locations, will ensure that in times of crisis, we are well prepared to maximize the safety of our team members and colleagues. With the hardest times of the hurricane season still to come, we hope you are all preparing for it and are keeping a close eye on forecasts.
What do you believe is key to a safe and efficient hurricane preparedness plan?