Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1st, 2018. So far, it’s been relatively quiet in terms of adverse weather activity. Experts say this could be attributed to the cooler ocean temperatures this season and El Nino’s weather pattern this year. But we’re not out of the woods yet and analysts are keeping a close watch on the most vulnerable regions.
There are a number of reasons why weather and climate experts are concerned about the 2018 hurricane season. A new study tracking hurricane activity from 1979 to today was released just before the start of the 2018 hurricane season and it has some startling findings.
Storms Are Getting Stronger
First, since 1980 the number of storms with winds stronger than 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph, or a strong Category 3) have doubled. In addition, storms with winds stronger than 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph) have tripled (Source).
The strength and severity of storms, and therefore the potential for destruction, loss, and death, have steadily increased over the past 4 decades so even an average hurricane season is likely to be more severe with each passing year.
And More Intense
Storms are also getting more intense, faster. In addition to increased wind speeds, when storms hit, they’re now more likely to drop record amounts of rain. This is especially true if they stall when they make landfall (Source).
Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Kerry Emanuel of MIT, and Jim Kossin of NOAA and Mann, authors of the new study, state “The weight of the evidence suggests that the 30-year-old prediction of more intense and wetter tropical cyclones is coming to pass. This is a risk that we can no longer afford to ignore.”
This warning, backed by scientific data and trends, is one that anyone involved in the climate, resilience, disaster preparedness, and recovery spaces must heed. There is still time for us to prepare for these worsening storms. But we must accept that these weather events will continue to intensify and therefore demand a stronger preparation and response mechanism. Business as usual will result in additional destruction and loss of life if we do not change the way we prepare for and respond to these crises.
Covering More Areas
Additionally storms aren’t only becoming stronger and wetter. The evidence shows that geographically the spread of storms is increasing and migrating towards the poles, which would begin to affect the East Coast of the US and Europe (Source). Disaster preparedness and recovery initiatives must take this into account if we are to effectively prepare for and withstand extreme climate events.
We Need A New Category Of Storm
Currently, there are 5 Categories of Hurricane according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with Category 5 being the most severe storm. What we know about wind speeds, however, indicates that for every 10 mph increase in wind speed, we see up to a 20 percent increase in damage sustained. With storms becoming more powerful (and often labelled ‘Super Storms’) this has huge implications for not only for disaster response but also how we can and should be preparing for disasters in the first instance.
A shelter may be constructed to withstand winds and rainfall in a Category 5 storm, but if we know that storms are becoming more intense, with more severe wind speeds that can inflict more damage, we must prepare accordingly. If we ignore this information, our preparedness efforts will fall short.
Preparing for Hurricane Season
Thankfully, hurricane season has thus far been uneventful. But hurricane activity tends to peak in September, and the first named storm tends to come in July (Source). The newly released data show that storms are intensifying, spreading, and require a more robust preparedness and response system if we are to minimize the damage caused by them.
Changing The Preparedness Landscape
The death and devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017 was staggering. Here at The Level Market we’re working hard to change the narrative this hurricane season, for good. Our aim is to help nonprofits and government agencies find and purchase the relief supplies they need to enable families to survive these storms. From water filters and solar lights to shelters and blankets, we have the relief supplies you need for your preparedness initiatives. The evidence shows that hurricanes are becoming more intense and our response must match this growing intensity. Together, The Level Market and the nonprofit sector can impact lives this hurricane season. Contact us today to discuss your needs.