Take virus into account when preparing
Mother Nature has no sympathy for Delawareans already exhausted by 2020.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an “above-normal” Atlantic hurricane season, between June 1 and November 30. They expect 13 to 19 named storms (winds at least 39 miles per hour), six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes (winds of 111 miles per hour or higher).
Gerry Bell is the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA. He said there are two reasons 2020 is expected to be busy.
“The more active seasons we’ve been seeing since 1995 are still in place. Warmer ocean water in the Atlantic and weaker wind shear make it much more favorable for hurricanes to develop as they move from west Africa,” Bell said. “Historically this pattern lasts 25 to 30 years. We saw a similar pattern in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It’s a cyclical thing.”
The other factor is El Niño, a Pacific Ocean climate phenomenon.
“El Niño suppresses Atlantic hurricanes. Unfortunately we’re not expecting El Niño this year, so there’s not going to be anything to suppress these more conducive conditions,” Bell said.
Delmarva’s fortunate tucked-in position on the East Coast is a great protector. Historically, Delaware has been spared the worst.
“Delaware just seems to be a little bit too far in for [hurricanes] to make landfall. With Sandy we were certainly very lucky. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have effects,” Bell said. “Flooding, storm surge, beach erosion. We’ve seen where some of these beach towns are evacuated.”
Tropical storms Arthur and Bertha started the season in early May with minimal effects, including some flooding, in the Carolinas. The third named storm, Tropical Storm Cristobal, made landfall in Mexico June 3. Last week, its remnants brought severe storms to the Midwest, the Great Lakes region and Canada.
Dolly is next in line, and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency is keeping the coronavirus in mind while preparing for a hit.
“We began coordinating with local, state, federal, private and voluntary organizations early into the COVID-19 response to begin planning efforts for hurricane season,” said Jeff Sands, community relations coordinator at DEMA. “Some potential changes include earlier evacuations and changes with sheltering.”
Expanding shelter options for social distancing is the most significant addition. Sands said sanitation stations will be required.
“We continue to look into alternate sheltering strategies, such as the use of hotels, which could assist with reducing the strain on traditional shelters,” Sands said. “Our message to the public is that shelters are safe and we will do everything in our power to ensure that they have a safe environment should they require it.”
Sands stressed that now is the time to prepare. State and federal agencies recommend everyone:Staying informed about local weather Learn how to prepare homes and properties for an impending hurricane Create an evacuation plan with family, including identifying alternate housing options Create a “hurricane kit” with items to fight the spread of coronavirus, such as sanitizer and face masks.
2020 hurricane preparedness kit checklist
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends all families have the following items ready to go in their hurricane kit:Water: one gallon per person, per day. (Recommended three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home.) Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food items. (Recommended three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home.) Flashlight. Battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Extra batteries. First aid kit. Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items. Multi-purpose tool, like a Swiss Army knife. Sanitation and personal hygiene items. Copies of personal documents (including medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies). Cell phone with charger. Family and emergency contact information. Extra cash (ATMs may be inoperable). Extra fuel for generator and car. Hand sanitizer. Face coverings/masks. Other items depending on your family, such as for infants, the elderly, the sick and pets.