2022 Hurricane Season Predictions: Protect Your Business by Planning Ahead
In this post, we take a look at the experts’ predictions for 2022, what it means for your business, and hear from AlertMedia’s in-house meteorologist, Jason Moreland, about what your organization can do to prepare for yet another “above average” hurricane season.
Spring is fully here, which also means hurricane season is right around the corner. While hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through November 30, anyone who has lived through a major storm will be quick to reiterate that preparing for the season is not something you want to put off until the end of May.
Predictions are in for the 2022 hurricane season forecast, and experts anticipate another year of frequent severe weather activity. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start getting your business, employees, and facilities ready.
In this post, we take a look at the experts’ hurricane season predictions for 2022 and what it means for your business. Plus, you’ll get to hear from AlertMedia’s in-house meteorologist, Jason Moreland, and learn what your organization can do to prepare for yet another “above average” hurricane season.
What Experts Are Predicting for the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season
“Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) is a named storm’s potential for wind and storm surge destruction. It accounts for a storm‘s intensity—not just at its peak but also throughout its life cycle—at six-hour time increments.”
Much like the last several years, early predictions for the 2022 hurricane season show an above-average activity level. Colorado State University (CSU), which released its initial seasonal forecast on April 7, is predicting 19 named storms, nine of which will develop into hurricanes. Of these, CSU anticipates four major hurricanes. For comparison purposes, the 30-year-average spanning 1991 to 2020 is roughly 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes per year.
CSU is also forecasting a season total accumulated cyclone energy of 160 units versus the 30-year average of 123 units.
What is an “average” hurricane season?
“A major hurricane is defined as a Category 3, 4, or 5 storm with sustained winds of 111 mph or higher.”
Prior to 2021, meteorologists used hurricane data from 1981 to 2010 for its 30-year average, which served as a baseline for expected activity during a given hurricane season. The previous averages anticipated 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes during an “average” hurricane season.
However, since last year, the new average hurricane season has been defined using data from a more recent 30-year period spanning 1991 to 2020. This new data anticipates 14 named storms, seven of those named storms becoming hurricanes, and of those seven hurricanes, three become major hurricanes. So, you can see the increase in what is considered a “normal” hurricane season.
A Meteorologist’s Perspective: Interview with Jason Moreland
We sat down with Jason Moreland, Senior Meteorologist at AlertMedia, to get his thoughts about the upcoming season and find out what he thinks is the best way businesses can prepare before the storms start brewing.
This early in the season, what can meteorologists determine about expected hurricane paths and landfall?
Jason Moreland: With regard to this year’s hurricane tracks, there’s still no reliable method by which we can make that determination of where storms are gonna go. However, the total number of storms that do form has been determined to be one of the primary forecast factors of overall landfall risk.
It also makes sense when you think about it. If we’re dealing with dozens of storms forming within the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean area, that’s naturally going to increase the odds of at least a few landfalls. Based on prior seasons of similar above-average activity, Colorado State researchers are estimating at least a 71 percent probability of at least one major Category 3 or higher hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline.
There are nearly 50/50 odds of a major hurricane making landfall somewhere between the Texas coast and the Florida panhandle. And likewise, it’s a bit of a coin flip as to whether or not a major hurricane will strike along the U.S. East Coast. And we’re basically talking about that stretch of coastline from Maine southward through the entire Florida peninsula.
Farther south across the Caribbean Sea and the tropical Atlantic, we’re also looking at an above-average chance of major hurricane activity. Based on estimates, there’s about a 60 percent probability of at least one major hurricane tracking somewhere within the region. And all these landfall probabilities that we’re going through are significantly higher than the long-term averages that have been observed over the last century.
What weather patterns are indicative of this being another above-average hurricane season?
Jason Moreland: If we look at the average to slightly above average water temperatures that are still in place across the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Atlantic, that’s another telltale sign that we’re going to be looking at a very active summer hurricane season.
And potentially of even greater significance is what’s happening out there in the Pacific Ocean. As of right now, we’re still dealing with weak La Niña conditions. This is the complete opposite of El Niño years, which favor warmer than normal water temperatures and more frequent thunderstorms on the Pacific side — which in turn results in less favorable winds here and more dry air for hurricanes downstream over the Atlantic Ocean.
So at the very start of 2022, when we begin to look at the long-range models heading into the summer and fall months, they were indicating that the Pacific can make a run towards El Niño conditions. But now that we’re midway through what is commonly called the “spring predictability barrier” or the transition months, it’s starting to become clear that this La Niña that we’ve been in for a couple of years still might have a little bit more left in the tank.
So if La Niña hangs on, this is going to be a rare third consecutive hurricane season in which there’s gonna be a favorable signal on the Pacific for more hurricane activity.
In fact, the researchers that CSU have determined that 2021 is one of six years in the past that best matches the atmosphere and ocean conditions heading into this season. And 2021 was the third most active season on record. It was also the third costliest hurricane season on record.
How should businesses that are not coastal or have locations inland of hurricane-prone coasts use these predictions?
Jason Moreland: It’s important to note that tropical storms and hurricanes are not just coastal issues. In 2020, all the attention was on western Louisiana when powerful and major hurricane Laura was making landfall. But what may have gone unnoticed was that storm continued well inland. And in fact, the National Weather Service had to issue tropical storm warnings well into Arkansas, which for many was completely unheard of.
And that’s just the wind-related aspect. When it comes to heavy rainfall and flooding impacts, those can extend well into the midwest United States. And this is days after the storm reaches the coast along the southeast. Major flood events have less to do with the storm’s total intensity, but rather the slow movement of these systems after they move inland.
So keep in mind that you need to be watchful of these tropical depressions and tropical storms, not just the hurricanes and major hurricanes. All employees should know whether they live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and have multiple means of receiving critical notifications from local authorities and the National Weather Service.
What can businesses do to prepare for this season?
Jason Moreland: One of the main goals behind these early season forecasts is to not only give people a general idea as to what sort of activity we can anticipate, but it’s also a means of increasing awareness that another significant hurricane season is upon us.
Here are a few things you can do to prepare your business for the 2022 hurricane season.
Prepare your plans
- Review or formulate your hurricane preparedness plan long before you will need to use it
- Review and/or create contingencies in case things do not go as planned
- Communicate these plans and contingencies to your employees well ahead of time
- Create some mock drills or tabletop exercises to seek out any weaknesses within the preparedness plan that your employees can help point out
Note: If you don’t have any preparedness plans, you can begin by reviewing all county mitigation plans for areas in which your business has critical infrastructure or personnel. These documents can shed light on potential threats that are unique to the area. So, for example, if one part of the coast is more susceptible to storm surge and flooding, this may be accounted for within these county mitigation plans.
Prepare your employees
- Encourage employees to devise their own hurricane checklist for themselves and their families
- Reach out to any employees who are new to hurricane-prone locations like Texas, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas to help them deal with these new threats
- Remember to plan for your remote employees who may be dealing with different threats
- Plan to protect employees from weather impacts from these tropical systems far beyond the track, far beyond the cone.
- Educate your employees as much as possible about tropical weather and tropical weather forecasts so that they can make the best decisions
Prepare your facilities and buildings
- Inspect the roof and gutters for any damage or clogged debris
- Check for confirmed reports of damage or things that just don’t look right
- Get a licensed contractor to resolve any potential outstanding issues
- Board up windows or install impact-resistant glass
- Invest in backup power blocks and generators for phones and other essential items
- Be sure to read the operations manual and test the equipment to ensure that the generator can be used safely to eliminate the chance of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning
Note: Right before a storm, DO NOT tape your windows.
This is a common myth dating back to the 1980s. Preparedness experts warn that taping your windows to guard against flying debris is likely to do more harm than good. In fact, when windows are taped, there’s a higher likelihood of large chunks of flying glass instead of the windows shattering as designed. Instead of taping windows shut, you should cover them with boards or investing in impact-resistant glass.
What are the best places to find hurricane or weather tracking information now and once the season officially starts?
Jason Moreland: I always encourage people to visit hurricanes.gov. It is the official website of the National Hurricane Center, and it’s the nationally recognized resource for five-day tropical outlooks and also active storm advisories.
As a reminder, hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, but daily tropical outlooks are going to be initiated beginning on May 15. It’s interesting to note that in the last seven years, we’ve had at least one early-season development before the month of June. So it’s prudent to be on the lookout for any early Tropical development that could cause a severe weather threat even before the season officially begins.
Using AlertMedia to Monitor and Respond to Hurricanes
A modern emergency communication solution, like AlertMedia, allows you to complete all of these steps using a single, easy-to-use platform.
Get ahead of hurricanes with analyst-verified intelligence
AlertMedia’s team of in-house analysts works around the clock to monitor thousands of data sources, filter out the noise, and deliver only the most relevant view of hurricanes that may impact your people and business.
Identify your at-risk employees with a robust threat assessment engine
The threat assessment engine will quantify the impact of the threat (which employees and offices are in the path of the storm)—and automatically update this impact assessment as the storm changes. For example, perhaps you have offices and remote employees in multiple locations near the Gulf Coast. As the path of the hurricane changes, real-time threat intelligence and impact assessments will help you rapidly identify those in harm’s way to ensure they are informed and prepared.
Execute your hurricane response with the most innovative emergency communications software
When it comes time to communicate with your people—whether it be office closures or regional evacuations—AlertMedia makes sure that the critical message is delivered to the correct audience and read as quickly as possible. For example, Moss Construction used AlertMedia to communicate with its dispersed workforce when Hurricane Lane threatened Hawaii in 2018. Moss had several construction job sites and solar projects ongoing throughout the islands at the time, with hundreds of workers spread across the islands.
Using AlertMedia, Moss sent out multichannel notifications to employees in the hurricane’s path to keep them informed of the latest storm updates. Moss also set up an event page within AlertMedia to house all storm-related information, including hurricane preparation resources. A few hours before the hurricane was to hit, Moss sent a survey notification to employees to confirm storm readiness. This allowed Moss to rapidly identify four employees that felt they were ill-prepared for the storm. Immediately, the organization was able to connect with and get these employees and their families into a hotel.
The Bottom Line
Hurricane season 2022 is nearly here. And it comes with the very unwelcome prediction of being an “above average” season, meaning organizations everywhere need to be prepared for the worst. And with climate change increasing the rate and severity of severe storms, this is likely not going to be the last year where “above-average” seems more like “near-average.”
By heeding the advice of experts and deploying a modern emergency communications solution like AlertMedia, you can equip your organization to take hurricane season in stride.