Hurricanes forecasted during pandemic cause concerns
HALIFAX -- Experts are forecasting an active year for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, and that has been the case so far.
Complicating this year’s hurricane season is the COVID-19 pandemic.
Questions are arising as to how the world will react to hurricane dangers at a time when physical distancing and major public health concerns are already causing a strain on our society.
An ominous hurricane season forecast already has a lot of people bracing for the worst.
Halifax resident Jeff Supple has seen his fair share of Hurricanes, and has some advice.
“Prepare, and sometimes over prepare,” says Supple.
Environment Canada meteorologist Bob Robichaud agrees.
“With everything else that we’re dealing with, it’s important to get all your preparations done before a storm appears on the map.”
There are concerns that it will be a busy, and dangerous hurricane season.
“It’s the high number of storms, that is essentially on the high side,” says Robichaud.
Robichaud pointed to surface water temperatures running one to two degrees above normal in the overall tropical Atlantic, the warmer waters providing more energy for storm development.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its updated hurricane forecast, and predicts as many as 11 hurricanes could reach North America.
“If you look at how many of those storms are expected to become a hurricane, or even a major hurricane, those numbers are unchanged from those numbers back in May,” says Robichaud.
According to the update issued by the NOAA, the nine named storms so far this year are a record, with typically only two named storms by early August on average.
That makes it the busiest season to date since 2005, which finished with 28 named storms.
The heart of Hurricane season, August, September and October, is now upon us.
“When it comes to the planning, this is something that never stops, it’s year round,” says Jacqueline Foster, Nova Scotia Power senior communications advisor.
Foster says NS Power is spending more than $20 million a year in tree trimming and maintenance, and the utility has learned lessons from previous hurricane seasons that they will apply tracking storms that may come our way.
“To get a better idea of what parts of the province might be impacted, so we can take a look at having the right resources in the right places,” says Foster.
It is important to have a plan and some preparation in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane. A good place to start is at the Government of Canada's 'get prepared' page.
Preparing for power outages, home damage, and possible food and water shortages is tough under normal circumstances, but COVID-19 adds another layer of stress.
“It’s challenging enough now for people to get around on a good day, with masks and all,” says Supple. “If we have another hurricane to throw into the pandemic, I don’t know what that’s going to do to the city.”
While the Maritimes has yet to be significantly impacted by a tropical storm or hurricane so far this year we’ve recently had a close call with Hurricane Isaias. Isaias passed to the west of the region but where it did move directly into Quebec thousands of power outages occurred as well as reports of flash flooding.