While Tropical Storms Josephine and Kyle will dodge the U.S. East Coast, the United States may not be as lucky as the peak of the hurricane season approaches. Meteorologists with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and NOAA are warning Americans to prepare for a very active and potentially dangerous period approaching.
In the latest advisory from the NHC, the center of Tropical Storm Josephine was located near latitude 19.1 North, longitude 60.2 West. Josephine is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Josephine is forecast to continue on this general motion for the next day or two and then turn toward the northwest early next week. On the forecast track, the center of Josephine is expected to pass to the northeast of the Leeward Islands today and tonight. Over time, Josephine is expected to re-curve over the Atlantic and turn away from the U.S. East Coast, possibly bringing direct or indirect impacts to Bermuda as it does so.
While the center of Josephine is well north of the Leeward Islands, Tropical Storm Kyle is well east of the Jersey Shore. In the last update from the NHC, the center of Tropical Storm Kyle was located near latitude 39.0 North, longitude 65.6 West. With maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, Kyle is moving toward the east – northeast near 21 mph and this general motion is forecast to continue today. A turn toward the east is expected by early Monday. Over time, Kyle may phase with an area of low pressure moving off of Greenland, which could set the stage for a significant, damaging storm that could impact Europe in the coming days. But as with Josephine, the worst Kyle will bring to the U.S. coast is rough surf and the threat of riptides.
Forecasters warn there may be a surge of activity once Josephine and Kyle move away from the U.S. In recent days, experts with Colorado State University’s (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project and NOAA have each released updated hurricane season outlooks reflecting an even busier expected outcome for an already forecast busy season. The CSU outlook update is calling for an additional 5 major hurricanes in the coming weeks while the NOAA update is now calling for more tropical storms and hurricanes than they have ever forecast in any year before.
The 2020 Hurricane Season has been a busy one in the Atlantic, with the most number of named storms so early in the season. According to CSU’s Dr. Phil Klotzbach, “The Atlantic has already generated 25.75 named storm days in 2020 –the third most in the satellite era since 1966 through August 14.” He adds, “The only years with more named storm days through August 14 were 2005 with 39.75 named storm days and 2008 with 29 named storm days”.
With so many threats to the United States already, much of the coast has been under a Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watch or Warning already. Even Hawaii has already been warned this year, which was threatened by Hurricane Douglas just weeks ago. A map produced by the Corpus Christi, Texas National Weather Service office shows the entire U.S. East Coast and much of the western and central Gulf Coast has seen tropical cyclone watches and warnings issued at least once by August 4.
With so many storms and advisories out already, and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, experts are concerned that disaster fatigue may be setting in and may not be as prepared as they should for what is likely to be a very active period in the tropics in the coming months.
“We have to be open and honest about the challenges that people face, ” Mike Brennan, Ph.D., told us; he serves as Senior Hurricane Specialist at the National Hurricane Center. “And we need to remind people that the situation of where they lived in June may be different from what it’s going to be related to COVID when the next storm arrives in September. Pay attention to that local situation and your local emergency managers –those are the people that will tell you what you need to do to be prepared for the hurricane in the COVID environment where you live.”
“Repetitiveness of storms becomes an issue, ” says Dr. Uccellini, Director of the National Weather Service. We asked Dr. Uccellini for his thoughts on disaster fatigue and what they’re doing to keep people informed and safe. “We need to be persistent in our messaging. It’s really important that communities don’t let their guard down.” Dr. Uccellini also said this is a “whole community effort, not just the National Weather Service, but one that involves the whole weather enterprise.” Dr. Uccellini says players across the weather enterprise need to rally around a consistent message to “ensure communities don’t let their guards down.” Even with multiple disasters impacting the United States, Dr. Uccellini said it’s important that everyone “be ready and responsive” for what lies ahead.
To be prepared, the weather enterprise is encouraging that everyone to have a Hurricane Action Plan, even if they were already impacted by a tropical cyclone this year. Due to COVID-19, people should also factor the pandemic in their planning and think about extra supplies they may need or restrictions they may encounter when executing a plan or evacuating an area from a hurricane threat. A good Hurricane Action Plan details what you’d do before a hurricane or tropical storm arrives, what you’d do during impact, and what you would do in a storm’s wake.