As the first week of hurricane season and the 2021 Florida Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday are about to come to an end, the Tropical Meteorology Project in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU) updated its 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast, sticking to its guns that there will be an “above-average” level of tropical cyclone activity but upping its forecast number of named storms from 17 to 18.
Led by Phil Klotzbach, PhD, also a non-resident scholar at the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), the CSU forecast team released its initial 2021 outlook on April 8.
In its updated 2021 forecast, CSU now anticipates 18 named storms, rather than 17, while keeping its estimate for the season at eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. Major hurricanes are defined as those with wind speeds reaching Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Tropical Storm Ana became the first named storm of 2021 when it formed in late May in the north Atlantic.
“History proves that if you live on or near the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts, you are in harm’s way,” said Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan. “Coastal states from Maine to Texas are vulnerable to the impacts of hurricanes. All it takes is one storm to make it an active season for you and your family so now is the time to prepare.”
The Atlantic hurricane season officially started on June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. A typical season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on 30-year seasonal averages from 1991 through 2020.
Fourteen of the 30 named storms that occurred in 2020 were hurricanes. Seven of the 14 hurricanes became major hurricanes, tying the record set in 2005. A record-setting 11 named storms made landfall in 2020 in the continental U.S., including six hurricanes.
CSU predicts 2021’s hurricane activity will be about 120 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2020’s hurricane activity was about 145 percent of the average season. Moreover, the CSU forecast indicates there is a 69 percent chance of a major hurricane making landfall in the continental U.S. this year. This includes a 45 percent chance for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (the average for the last century is 31 percent); and a 44 percent chance for the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville, Texas (the average for the last century is 30 percent).
“We do not anticipate El Niño conditions this summer or fall in the tropical Pacific,” said Klotzbach. “When El Niño occurs, upper-level westerly winds tend to tear apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop and intensify in the Atlantic basin. Additionally, the subtropical Atlantic is much warmer than normal right now, which typically leads to a warming of the tropical Atlantic by the peak of hurricane season beginning in mid-August, fueling tropical cyclone activity.”
“Homeowners and business owners should review their policies with an insurance professional to make sure they have the right types, and amounts, of insurance to protect their properties from damage caused by either wind or water. That also means exploring whether they need flood coverage since flood-caused damage is not covered under standard homeowners, renters, or business insurance policies. In addition, homeowners should take steps to make their residences more resilient to windstorms and torrential rain by installing roof tie-downs and a good drainage system,” Kevelighan added.
Floridians should also take advantage of its sales tax holiday ending Sunday to stock up on hurricane supplies.
“With an active hurricane season predicted this year, Floridians need to ensure they have at least seven days of supplies and put a disaster plan in place now,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie said, “Having a stocked disaster supply kit is a vital component of individual hurricane preparedness. This ten-day sales tax holiday can assist Floridians stock up ahead of hurricane season, while also saving money on critical supplies.”
Triple-I offers the following hurricane season preparedness tips:
- Develop a photo/video inventory of your possessions and your home’s exterior, which will ease the claims-filing process
- Prepare a hurricane emergency kit with a minimum two-week supply of essential items, such as drinking water, non-perishable food and COVID-19 safety items (face coverings, hand sanitizer)
- Create an evacuation plan well before the first storm warnings are issued.