Hurricane season ahead
Image of 2011 Hurricane Irene storm surge

File photo

Hurricane season ahead

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
5/18/2017


SUFFOLK COUNTY—According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the United States had the second-wettest and 11th-warmest April on record. The good news is that the national drought is history. The bad news is it’s now time to begin thinking about the most feared of all warm-weather nuisances: hurricanes, even though summer is still more than a month away. Since hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs to Nov. 30, it’s time to begin preparing for that possibility. In fact, last week (May 7-13) was Hurricane Preparedness Week across the country. Locally, NOAA held a press conference at Long Island MacArthur Airport to explain the importance of getting ready for what could be ahead.

The event featured NOAA weather specialists from New York, National Hurricane Center director Dr. Rick Knabb, an expert on hurricanes, as well as hurricane hunter mission specialist Warren Madden. The United States Air Force and NOAA crewmembers joined town and county emergency management personnel along with representatives from the American Red Cross. There was even an onboard tour provided of a U.S. Air Force reserve WC-130 hurricane hunter aircraft and the NOAA G-IV aircraft.

“We are fortunate …to enjoy many miles of beautiful shoreline. This also means that we have to take extra precautions when it comes to weather-related events,” said Supervisor Angie Carpenter at the press conference.

Hurricanes have been named since 1953 and are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. There are 21 storm names for the Atlantic season this year. However, according to forecasters at Colorado State University – where forecasters have been correct 28 out of the 35 years they’ve been doing this – the 2017 hurricane season is supposed to be below normal with fewer storms. They are actually predicting only 11 named storms; two of them, though, could be major hurricanes. Florida is said to have only a 24 percent chance of a direct hit, where the average is 30 percent. Although there’s usually a 50 percent chance of one hitting anywhere in the United States, CSU says this year the odds are reduced to 42 percent. Last year they predicted an above-normal season, which did turn out to be true, even though, fortunately, Long Island was spared.

After the LIMA press conference, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone reminded residents they should still make necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season as well as the potential impact of tropical cyclone threats.  

“The safety of our residents is our utmost priority in Suffolk County, and the unpredictable months during hurricane season are no exception,” said Bellone. “The trained and dedicated professionals in our Office of Emergency Management are always reviewing and improving our emergency operations to ensure that we are able to communicate the most up-to-date information to our residents during the most critical moments.”

“A key component to ensure safety throughout hurricane season in a coastal community is having a strong personal preparedness plan in place,” said Joe Williams, commissioner of Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services. “Now is really the best time for residents to create a hurricane preparedness plan and ensure that you and your family are best equipped to remain safe during this unpredictable time of year.”

There is a coordinated effort between the county, state, federal and local partners to tackle emergencies such as hurricanes. The Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management also maintains a stockpile of critical emergency supplies, such as Meals Ready to Eat, bottled water, generators, and cots for sheltering. Residents can sign up to receive CodeRed notifications, which allows Suffolk County to rapidly communicate emergency messaging to the public.  Anyone interested in signing up for CodeRed notifications and creating a safety profile should visit the OEM tab at www.suffolkcountyny.gov.  

Those who reside in a flood zone should be prepared to evacuate in the event of an emergency.

For more information on Suffolk County’s hurricane preparedness measures, call the Suffolk County OEM at (631) 852-4904. To see if you live in a flood zone, visit www.suffolkcountyny.gov and search the Shelter & Storm Surge Mapping Tool. 

 “Now is the time to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season – have your supplies ready and know where you will go when safe shelter is needed,” said Rick Knabb, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. “With advanced planning, communities can better take a hit from nature and recover more quickly. Don’t wait for a storm to threaten – by then, it may be too late.”