Eye of the Storm
By Amanda Hosey
Last year’s hurricane season was the most active on record, with 30 named storms (a record), 14 hurricanes (second most on record), 11 storms that made landfall on a U.S. coastline (a record), and seven major hurricanes (average is three)*, causing more than $65 billion in damage. Last season also saw many more “rapidly intensifying” storms, which scientists have found are caused by higher ocean temperatures. As the average sea temperatures are steadily increasing, these scientists warn rapidly intensifying storms will only get worse.
The general consensus among forecasters is that the 2021 hurricane season will be yet another highly active one. Accuweather predicts 16-20 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes, and 35 major hurricanes; NOAA predicts similar numbers, with 13-20 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes.
As I write this in late June, we’ve already seen three named storms: Ana, which arrived quickly on May 22, more than a week before the official start of hurricane season on June 1, before dissipating in the Atlantic. Bill became a named storm on June 14 and looked to be a threat before breaking up on June 16. Claudette was named on June 19 after it made landfall on the Gulf coast when its core was finally defined enough. It resulted in floods and tornadoes across the Southeastern U.S. and 14 deaths and major damage in Alabama.
Weather scientists have made great strides the last few years in hurricane prediction, including predicting how hurricanes will act upon landfall, aiding in response planning in locations where inland damage can be severe, as in the case of Claudette. Recent studies have found** a link between a hurricane’s cold core structure and its inland threat. We are also seeing major improvements in hurricane path prediction, especially the ability to pinpoint and warn a specific area in the last few days before landfall.
These increases in storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes are likely the new normal, so it’s more important than ever for restoration companies in areas of heightened storm activity or those who travel for catastrophic response (CAT) to be prepared. If you are considering traveling to areas hit by storms, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Planning is key in successful CAT work, and if you’re just considering jumping in this season, it might be too late unless you already have a network in your target area.
- It’s essential to build good relationships with area restoration and related companies, as well as suppliers of temp labor, equipment, and other needs.
- You should plan ahead for legal risks like extra needed licensing and insurance in the area.
- Plan how you will take care of your normal customers while working on CAT projects.
- You need to market in your target area ahead of storms.***
If you will work with other restoration companies on projects, be sure to set monetary goals (like revenue splits); coordinate documentation; create a communication schedule; clarify expectations and responsibilities; and agree on protocols.****
Good luck this busy weather-related restoration season, and safe travels if that’s in your future.
Amanda Hosey is the managing editor of Cleanfax. She has worked as an editor and writer for more than six years, including four years with Cleanfax. Reach her at [email protected].