Live From the National Hurricane Conference: What to Expect in 2011

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National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read. Photo: Palm Beach Post

ImpactWeather President Mark Chambers guest-posts today from the National Hurricane Conference in Atlanta.

The 2011 National Hurricane Conference is being held this week in Atlanta.  The conference serves as an important annual forum for education and training with regard to hurricanes and disaster preparedness.  It provides a unique opportunity for leaders and key personnel in both the public and private sector to exchange ideas and present new findings on topics of preparing, responding and recovering from hurricanes.  I represented ImpactWeather at the conference this year.

Bill Read, Director of the National Hurricane Center, opened the conference this year with an overview of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.  Bill emphasized how fortunate the United States mainland was last year given that the 2010 season was so active overall (19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes) yet none of the hurricanes hit any part of the U.S.   A persistent trof of low pressure off the U.S. East Coast directed nearly all of the storms safely out to sea and the few that stayed much further to the south were prevented from venturing northward into the northern Gulf of Mexico by strong high pressure there.

Another topic that Bill focused on was the issue of seasonal forecasts of hurricane activity.  He acknowledged the credible efforts by groups like Dr. Bill Gray and Dr. Phil Klotzbach at Colorado State University and others to develop systematic methodologies to arrive at their forecasts.   He pointed out the interesting paradox that while there is a public demand for such forecasts there is also general public skepticism as to their value.

Mark Chambers. Photo: Fred Rogers, ImpactWeather, Inc.

The more important point that he wanted to emphasize is that the degree of preparation that we as individuals and organizations engage in should never be any affected by a seasonal forecast. This is a point that we here at ImpactWeather continually communicate as well.  If you are seriously going to plan and prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, are you really going to do less if a seasonal forecast is for a below-normal number of named storms?  It only takes one storm to affect your location and it suddenly can become a very active (and potentially dangerous) season for you.

In an effort to put the concept of personal preparedness in a more positive, proactive light, Bill strongly supported a national effort to encourage individuals to put together their own hurricane kit.   This campaign – known as the Great Hurricane Blowout – kicked off at the conference this week and will lead up to “National Kit Party Day” on June 18th.   Please visit GreatHurricaneBlowout.org for more details.

If you live near the coast anywhere from South Texas to Maine, please take the time today to visit this site, take action for yourself and spread the word.   When the next hurricane comes your way, you’ll be glad that took the time to prepare.   The official start to the 2011 hurricane season is only a few weeks away and just prior to that, on May 24th, is the country’s other big hurricane meeting, the 2011 Hurricane Seminar for Business and Industry.

 

 

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