Calm before the storm: Officials urging continued awareness in peak hurricane season
Much of the summer has been the calm before the storm when it comes to the Atlantic hurricane season, but that could soon change and an eastern North Carolina weather expert wants to make sure people haven’t let their guard down as the peak approaches.
Over the past several years, multiple named storms formed in the tropics before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, but 2022 has been a quiet one so far. However, September 10 is the statistical peak of the season and Eric Heden with the National Weather Service office in Newport/Morehead City is concerned that that the quiet start may make some a bit too complacent.
“This is one of the quieter years so far, since 1999,” he said, “So, for folks that haven’t lived here for a while, 1999 was Hurricane Floyd. So, we just want to remind people that just because the season doesn’t start off busy doesn’t mean it can’t end busy.”
Hurricane Floyd formed off the coast of Africa 23 years ago today, September 7. The storm caused 51 deaths in North Carolina, much of them from freshwater flooding, and billions of dollars in damage.
More recently, Hurricane Florence hit ENC in the middle of September 2018 and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
Why the exceptionally quiet summer? Heden said it comes down to conditions in and off the coast of Africa.
“So, we had some periods of dust this year that kind of has held the storm activity down but also the second this is shear. As winds change as you go up in the atmosphere can kind of tear the storms apart. So, that combination of dust and shear really through July and August kind of really kept things from happening,” he explained.
And things look to be rapidly changing.
“Right now, we have a hurricane and a tropical storm and two other areas that we’re watching off the coast of Africa, so it’s pretty active right now. It’s just nothing imminent for our area yet.”
Another concern, he said, is that too many put on much stock in the category of an approaching storm and make evacuations decisions and others based solely on that number without considering many other important components.
“The category of the storm doesn’t tell us how much rain we’re going to have or that the storm’s going to sit here for four days or what kind of storm surge flooding we’re going to have from the system,” Heden said.
NWS Newport/Morehead City will host a community forum on Saturday, September 17 at 11 a.m. to talk about hurricanes and preparing for them. It will be held at the St. James AME Church in Kinston, but people can attend virtually on their computer, tablet or mobile device. Click HERE to register.
Heden added those that need more information about being prepared before the next storm hits can also visit weather.gov/moreheadcity.