Article Courtesy of
The Palm Beach Post
June 5, 2020
Storm season 2020: As the season officially
begins Monday, the state is dealing with a coronavirus pandemic.
What can we expect if the worst-case scenario occurs?
With Floridians already facing
daily challenges because of the coronavirus
pandemic, the first day of June marks the beginning
of another concern — the official start of hurricane
And by all indications, this
season will be another busy one.
The six-month Atlantic hurricane season begins
Monday, with multiple major forecasters predicting
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said it expects to
see 13 to 19 named storms in 2020, including six to
10 that could become hurricanes and three to six
that could develop into a major hurricane, meaning
Category 3 strength or higher. An average storm
season has 12 named storms, including six hurricanes
and three major hurricanes
Another signal it could be a
busier-than normal hurricane season is the lack of
an El Niņo and higher expectations that a La Niņa
could develop during the peak of hurricane season —
August through October.
NASA hurricane storm image for hurricane
While an El Niņo tends to reduce tropical systems
with higher wind shear, a La Niņa is more conducive to burgeoning
With the pandemic, we’re preparing for multiple scenarios
Amid the backdrop of a pandemic that has claimed more than 2,000
lives in Florida and more than 100,000 nationwide, state and local
emergency management officials are preparing for the possibility of
facing synchronized disasters.
During a Florida Cabinet teleconference Thursday, Florida Division
of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz discussed the
state’s recommendations to counties.
If a hurricane threatens, some evacuation requests may be replaced
by stay-at-home orders as officials try to minimize the spread of
“We only want people to evacuate if they have to evacuate,”
Moskowitz said. “If you live in a newer structure, newer home and
newer building code and the storm is of a lower category ...
sheltering in place may be the safest thing for you and your
The state also is recommending that counties follow CDC
recommendations and offer non-congregate shelters, such as hotels,
as an alternative to traditional shelters.
The state so far has signed up 200 hotels, with county emergency
management officials having the ability to pre-register evacuees. If
possible, shelters should limit capacity to 50 people, Moskowitz
said. The state also recommends every one entering a shelter be
screened, and that separate spaces be provided for those who fall
The CDC recommends that those evacuating to shelters include items
such as hand sanitzer, liquid or bar soap, and cloth masks in their
hurricane preparation kits.
Is it possible we’ll be threatened by another major hurricane?
If the predictions hold true — calling for an above-normal hurricane
season with as many as four major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher
— it will be the fifth consecutive year for unusually-high activity.
It also would follow some of the most devastating hurricanes in
Since 2016, six Category 5 hurricanes have formed, beginning with
Matthew in 2016, followed by 2017's Irma and Maria, 2018's Michael
and 2019's Dorian and Lorenzo.
Here’s a look at some of those storms:
Hurricane Matthew, 2016: It was one of the first recent
near-misses for Florida. It bore down on the Sunshine State with
140-mph winds, but we were left relatively unscathed as it then
buzzed up Florida’s Atlantic coast. However, Haiti wasn’t as lucky
as it suffered catastrophic damage and, ultimately, a humanitarian
crisis. Matthew would eventually become the 10th most destructive
storm in U.S. history.
Hurricane Irma, 2017: It followed up the next year and
hammered the Florida Keys. Irma’s power was mitigated by Cuba’s
northern coast. So the strong Category 4 storm was beat down some
before it reached the Florida Straits. It weakened slightly before
making its first landfall on Sept. 10, 2017 at Cudjoe Key. A subtle
wiggle west that made Marco Island its second landfall target kept
Irma’s deepest and deadliest storm surge away from Naples, Fort
Myers and Tampa.
Hurricane Michael, 2018: It blasted into Florida’s Panhandle
as a Category 5 Goliath, an upgrade from the storm’s original Cat 4
status and one that elevated it into the highest echelon of
land-falling horrors. Michael’s wind speeds were 160 mph when it
reached Tyndall Air Force Base southeast of Panama City. Michael
left about 22,000 Panhandle residents homeless resulted in total
insured losses of almost $7 billion.
Hurricane Dorian, 2019: This monster sat on our doorstep
which what felt like weeks. The extra-long Labor Day weekend was
packed with shuttering, endless storm watching and nail biting for
South Floridians as Dorian made a record and unpredicted ramp-up
from tropical storm to Category 5 and then just parked on the
Bahamas. A slowdown in Dorian’s forward speed allowed the Bermuda
High to shimmy to the east, making room for the hurricane to jag
northwest as an upper-level trough swooped in to save South Florida.
That gain, however, left the northern Bahamas to Dorian’s repeated
battering, with up to 185-mph winds. The damage to the Bahamas was
catastrophic, with many structures flattened and more than 70,000
So far this year we’ve already had two named storms
The hurricane season had an early start with two named storms —
Tropical Storm Arthur and Tropical Storm Bertha — forming in May.
Arthur skirted the North Carolina coast, while Bertha made landfall
near Charleston, S.C., bringing heavy rainfall.
The peak of hurricane season runs from August through October, with
the strongest storms often occurring during those months. During the
early summer months, most storms form in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf
Just one major hurricane on record has hit the United States in
June, Hurricane Audrey, which in 1957 made landfall in western
Louisiana as a Category 3.
Hurricane Dennis made landfall southeast of Pensacola on July 10,
2005 as a Category 3.
While this hurricane season may be unique, experts say those in
hurricane zones should prepare with the same sense of urgency that
they have had in the past.
“You should prepare for this season like every other season — with
the assumption that you are going to get hit,” said Dennis Feltgen,
meteorologist and spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.
“Those living in hurricane-prone areas such as South Florida should
be preparing now.”