By Cyndi Sellers
Hurricane forecast centers are all predicting this season to be more active than usual. Hurricane season officially begins June 1, but two named storms have already formed in the Atlantic. TS Bertha formed off the South Carolina Coast on Wednesday and quickly headed ashore. TS Arthur formed earlier this month off Florida. This is the sixth year in a row that a named storm has formed in the Atlantic before June 1.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting from 13-19 named storms, 6-10 of which may become hurricanes, with 3-6 of those becoming major storms, Category 3 or higher. The 1981-2010 average is 13 named storms, with 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. The Colorado State University team predicts 16 names storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.
NOAA’s forecast is based on a neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), or trend toward La Nina. El Nino conditions tend to suppress tropical development, while La Nina conditions favor development.
In addition, warmer than average sea surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean plus reduced wind shear favor development of tropical systems.
Forecasters cannot predict where the storms will form or make landfall, but everyone along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts should take precautions and be ready to evacuate quickly.
In Cameron Parish, the large number of people living in RV campers make evacuation readiness especially important. Recreational vehicles are to be taken out of storm surge prone areas of the parish in a hurricane evacuation in order to preserve property and reduce the amount of floating debris that might wash against permanent structures.
It goes without saying that all residents of lower Cameron Parish should be prepared to leave when told to do so by the authorities. This means having important documents and photographs packed and ready to go, having prescriptions filled, fuel in vehicle tanks, accommodations for pets in place, and a plan for the elderly and infirm.
Be ready to shutter or board windows of permanent structures, store outside equipment, and know how to shut off gas lines to prevent fires. The State of Louisiana website GetaGamePlan.org has more hurricane preparedness advice.
The state Office of Emergency Preparedness is preparing for more emergency shelters than usual to allow for distancing measures required by the coronavirus pandemic.