The 2019 hurricane season has begun, and officials want Georgia residents to be prepared. (Courtesy of NOAA/File)
ATLANTA, GA — The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season began this week and officials want Georgia residents to plan for a storm long before any sightings of swirling winds thousands of miles away. The 2018 hurricane season’s activity was about 120 percent of an average season with Hurricane Florence slamming into coastal Virginia and the Carolinas, and Hurricane Michael inundating portions of the Florida Panhandle.
In fact, 2019 has already seen the first named storm, with Subtropical Storm Andrea forming in the Atlantic in May, only to fizzle out without affecting the United States. The hurricane season runs until Nov. 30, with the largest number of hurricanes and tropical storms usually forming in September.
Weather researchers at Colorado State University on June 4 updated their predictions to call for a near-average 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. The university’s Tropical Meteorology Project team said the 2019 season could bring 14 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. This is near the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, three of which will become major hurricanes. Named storms have winds of 39 mph or higher. A named storm becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph or higher. Major hurricanes (category 3, 4 and 5) are those with winds of 111 mph or higher.
The first tropical storm of the season will be named Barry. (Click here for a complete list of storm names).
Researchers also calculated the probability of major hurricanes making landfall as follows:
48 percent for the entire U.S. coastline (average for the last century is 52 percent)28 percent for the U.S. East Coast including the Florida peninsula (average for the last century is 31 percent)28 percent for the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle westward to Brownsville (average for the last century is 30 percent)39 percent for the Caribbean (average for the last century is 42 percent)
Researchers cited the relatively high likelihood of a weak El Niño as a primary factor in the 2019 forecast.
With the start of hurricane season, State Farm Insurance said it’s a good time for homeowners to check in with their insurance agents to review their insurance policies for adequate coverage for their home and property.
Homeowners can protect themselves and their property with a few easy steps:
Review insurance coverage. Make sure you have the right amount and type of insurance. Remember. renters need to have their own insurance to cover their personal belongings.Create a home inventory. Make a list and or take photos and videos of your possessions and their estimated value.Protect your property. Stock plywood and materials you may need to board up windows. Move garbage cans and other large objects inside the house or garage. Secure boats and cars.Have an evacuation plan. Before the hurricane, decide what you will do. Find out the location of evacuation shelters. If you have a pet, check if the center accepts pets. Determine if you will ride out the storm in your home (if local authorities permit you to stay), or establish a safe place inland. Plan an escape route. Tell relatives where you will be.Put together an emergency kit. The kit should include basics such as water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, blankets, and important documents. Store your kit in airtight plastic bags or a plastic storage container with a lid.
Here are three top things for homeowners to talk to their insurance agent about before a hurricane hits:
Homeowners are encouraged to make sure they have a good understanding of what their policies cover (both home and auto), and the deductibles and exclusions their policies may include. It is important for homeowners to have the right amount of insurance coverage, so they can recover and rebuild following a storm.
Visit the Landfall Probability website for information on all coastal states as well as 11 regions and 205 individual counties along the U.S. coastline from Brownsville, Texas, to Eastport, Maine. Landfall probabilities for regions and counties are adjusted based on the current climate and its projected effects on the upcoming hurricane season.
Emergency Management officials have tips to help residents prepare before hurricanes move along the East Coast to minimize damage during this year’s season.
Steps that should be taken ahead of time include:
Build an emergency kit to include at least two weeks’ worth of supplies, including stocking up on necessary medications for family members and any pets.Create a family communications plan; make sure you know where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters the garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.Determine how and where to secure your boat.If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
Listen to local news and utilize a NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio; ensure you have the warning alarm tone enabled to receive alerts.Identify community primary and alternate evacuation routes as well as any nearby shelters.Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep the doors closed.Know how and where to shut off any outdoor propane supply tanks.Never connect a portable generator to the house wiring and never use a generator indoors.Bring pets inside with you.Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies; ensure you have emergency contacts preprogrammed.Have an adequate supply of water for cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency by visiting the United States Department of Agriculture’s website.Charge your electronic devices ahead of the storm.Keep your gas tank full.Put paper maps in the car.
Get Tech Ready
Technology has made it easier to prepare for emergencies, but it can be unreliable during big storms if you haven’t planned to keep your gadgets protected and powered up. Here are some tips to make sure you are tech ready:
Download the FEMA app. Receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. To search for open shelters (for disaster survivors): text SHELTER and ###strong to 43362 (4FEMA)
Use text messages, social media and email to connect with friends and family during emergencies.Mobile networks can become overwhelmed during emergencies, making it difficult to place and receive phone calls. Text messages require less bandwidth, which means they are able to be transmitted more reliably.Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter can also be an effective way to update family and friends during emergencies. Facebook’s Safety Check feature allows users to easily post a status update indicating that they are safe during a time of disaster.Register with American Red Cross’s Safe & Well site to let family and friends know you’re okay.Have an emergency charging option for your phone and other mobile devices. Smartphones have become a vital tool to receive emergency alerts and warnings,, so it’s important to make sure you can keep them powered up in an emergency.At home: Before severe weather, charge all of your electronic devices. If the power goes out, preserve battery power by minimizing device use. Keep a back-up power source on hand to recharge your phone so that you can stay connected even during an extended power outage.In your car: Keep a portable phone charger in your vehicle at all times, and consider purchasing a back-up power supply to keep in your vehicle as well.Change the settings on your phone to low power mode or place it on airplane mode to conserve energy.
Store important documents in a secure, password-protected jump drive or in the cloud.Capture electronic versions of important documents such as insurance policies, identification documents, and medical records. Don’t forget to include your pet’s information.Back-up your computer to protect photos and other personally important electronic documents.Scan old photos to protect them from loss.Keep your contacts updated and synced across all of your channels, including phone, email and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group listserv of your top contacts.Create a group chat via a texting app or a thread for family/friends/coworkers to communicate quickly during a disaster.
Sign up for Direct Deposit and electronic banking through your financial institution so you can access your payroll funds and make electronic payments wherever you are. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at GoDirect.org.
Residents readying for the upcoming season can get tips and advice on the federal government’s Ready.gov website.
To keep up with potential storms during hurricane season, bookmark the National Hurricane Center’s website. For local weather and severe weather alerts, visit the National Weather Service online.