What to know about the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season
▶ Watch Video: NOAA predicts above-average 2022 Atlantic hurricane season
June 1 marked the official start of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. The season will run through Nov. 30, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says it is expected to produce “above average” activity — which would make this the seventh above-average season in a row.
Hurricanes are considered the most powerful weather events on Earth, according to NASA, which makes understanding them and preparing for them of utmost importance.
What are the hurricane categories and what do they mean?
Hurricanes are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. Based on the storm’s sustained wind speeds, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used to prepare residents for a storm’s potential damage.
The National Hurricane Center explains that “major” hurricanes are classified as Category 3, 4, or 5 because of their “potential for significant loss of life and damage,” and those major hurricanes are responsible for 85% of all hurricane damage. While Category 1 or 2 hurricanes are less dangerous, they still require preparation and safety measures against damage or injury.
Sustained wind speed: 74-95 mph
“Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.”
Sustained wind speed: 96-110 mph
“Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.”
Sustained wind speed: 111-129 mph
“Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.”
Sustained wind speed: 130-156 mph
“Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
Sustained wind speed: 157 mph or higher
“Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
What is the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season forecast?
According to the most recent outlooks, NOAA researchers predict at 70% likelihood of between 14 to 21 named storms, with winds of 39 mph or higher. Six to 10 of those storms are expected to becoming hurricanes, and three to six hurricanes are expected to be “major,” a category 3 or higher.
“As we reflect on another potentially busy hurricane season, past storms — such as Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the New York metro area ten years ago — remind us that the impact of one storm can be felt for years,” NOAA administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad said.
What are the storm names?
Every year, the World Meteorological Organization announces 21 names for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season. This year’s list of names starts with Alex.
In 2021, forecasters ran out of storm names for the third time ever and the second year in a row. Those two years, officials used letters from the Greek alphabet when the planned storm names were exhausted. But now, if the list is used up, meteorologists will pick from a supplemental list of names instead.
What factors influence hurricanes?
Several climate factors can impact how severe a hurricane season is, according to NOAA. This year, La Niña, warmer sea temperatures and climate change are all expected to play a role in the severity of the season.
La Niña is a pattern of cooling waters in the Pacific, which nudges the jet stream northward. “The hurricane impacts of El Niño and its counterpart La Niña are like a see-saw between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, strengthening hurricane activity in one region while weakening it in the other,” NOAA explains.
Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures, combined with weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon are also expected to affect the season.
Researchers also have a growing amount of evidence that climate change makes hurricanes and other storms around the world more intense. Climate scientists say warmer temperatures caused by climate change allows the air to hold more moisture. Hurricanes become wetter, stronger, and intensify faster.
Who is at risk?
Hurricanes make landfall along the coast, but coastal residents aren’t the only ones at risk.
“Anyone can be in the direct path of a hurricane and in danger from the remnants of a storm system,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “It’s important for everyone to understand their risk and take proactive steps.”
As hurricanes can be volatile storms, quickly changing categories and directions, experts recommend that everyone have an updated hurricane preparedness plan. Even residents who don’t live in coastal areas can be in danger of flooding “hundreds of miles inland,” according to NOAA.
“Early preparation and understanding your risk is key to being hurricane resilient and climate-ready,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, whose department oversees NOAA.
Steps to get ready for a storm:
Develop an evacuation plan: This could be at a friend’s house and does not have to be miles and miles away, but families should also account for bringing pets
Assemble Disaster Supplies: Experts suggest having enough “non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of 3 days.” Cash, battery-powered radios, and flashlights could be helpful in the case of extended power outages.
Check your insurance policies: Make sure you have enough insurance to cover potential repairs. If flooding is a danger, it will most likely require a separate flood insurance policy.
Strengthen your home: Regardless of if you’re staying in place or evacuating, make sure your house is in good repair and ready for the storm. Plywood, steel or aluminum panels can be used to board windows and doors from strong winds
Prepare in advance: “The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins, when you have the time and are not under pressure,” NOAA advises. “If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep, the odds are that you will be under duress and will make the wrong decisions.”
More tips can be found at ready.gov, and listo.gov in Spanish. FEMA also encourages people to download the FEMA app to receive up-to-date emergency information.
CBS Miami has a 2022 hurricane preparedness guide you can download here.