Atlantic and Pacific Hurricane Season Outlook 2024 – Part 2

By BCD marketplace partner Crisis24

Part 1 Review

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to be very active, putting tens of millions of lives at risk and potentially causing billions of dollars in damage across coastal areas of southern and eastern US due to possible flooding, damaging winds, and storm surges. This season has the potential to be one of the most active in history. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast 17-25 named storms, the largest number ever predicted since forecasts began in 2010, and significantly above the historical average of 14. The main factors for the active Atlantic storm season are abnormally high sea temperatures and the likely transition to the La Niña climate pattern June-September, both of which will likely aid in the more frequent development of storms and increase the potential for systems to intensify rapidly. 

Eastern Pacific

NOAA’s outlook for the 2024 eastern Pacific hurricane season indicates a below-average season is most likely. Forecast models predict a 60-percent chance of a below-normal season, a 30-percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10-percent chance of an above-normal season. Similar climatic reasoning behind the above-average forecast for the Atlantic basin has formed the basis for the below-average forecast in the eastern Pacific. The La Niña weather pattern and above-normal temperatures in the Atlantic MDR favor reduced hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific. Below- or near-average sea surface temperatures are expected across the eastern Pacific, which also favors a near- or below-average season. A considerable number of storms are still likely to form (see Table 2), with activity likely to peak July-September. The Mexico’s national weather service, Servicio Meteorologico Nacional (SMN), has predicted a slightly higher level of activity than NOAA and has forecast that 15-18 named storms will storm, with four to five storms strengthening into hurricanes and three to four into major hurricanes.

Table 2 – Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Forecast

Central Pacific

After a quiet year in 2023, another relatively sedate season is forecast in 2024 due largely to the same climatic conditions that have led to the below-normal forecast for the eastern Pacific basin. NOAA’s outlook for the 2024 central Pacific Hurricane Season predicts a below-average season is most likely. There is a 50-percent chance of a below-normal season, a 30-percent chance of near-normal activity, and a 20-percent chance of an above-normal season. Only a handful of tropical storms occurs on average each year in the central Pacific, so it would only take one or two unexpected storms to form or to strengthen significantly to push the season from being below-normal to near- or above-normal. However, the risk of any direct impact on Hawaii remains low.

Table 3 – Central Pacific Hurricane Season Forecast

These forecasts are based on the best available data, a high level of scientific analysis, and extensive use of historical patterns to make the most accurate possible predictions for the season. However, there is always a degree of uncertainty with any forecast and any significant change in climatic conditions could alter the level of activity in each basin. For example, there is uncertainty as to whether La Niña conditions will prevail throughout the season or whether sea surface temperatures will continue to follow their current trend. Regardless of activity levels, the real impact of the hurricane seasons will be determined by the tracks they form and where they hit. It only takes one storm to create a disaster. Therefore, anyone living or traveling within the region over the next few months should make sure they keep up to date with local weather reports and take steps to ensure they are prepared for the eventuality of being impacted by tropical systems.

Impact of Hurricanes

The most visible impacts of hurricanes are often seen in the path of destruction they leave in their wake. Flooding, strong winds, and rough seas brought by the storm systems can cause fatalities and injuries as well as damage or destroy homes, businesses, and agricultural land. These impacts can affect livelihoods and cause large economic losses. Damage to infrastructure can cause widespread power outages, contaminated water supplies, and interruptions to internet services and mobile communications. The passage of a hurricane can put great strain on health and emergency services, which at times can become overstretched by the multitude of demands for their services.

Hurricanes can also result in major supply chain disruptions and economic impacts even if only one strong system comes onshore. Flooding, storm surge, and destructive winds not only threaten the personal safety of those operating in the path of a storm, but also have the potential to destroy infrastructure, complicate supply chain operations, and contribute to major transport disruptions. Transport closures and panic buying ahead of an approaching storm system can lead to a lack of available goods and services in the immediate aftermath of a storm.

The road to recovery following the impacts of a hurricane can be a long and expensive one. It can take months or years for areas to be restored to something resembling their previous state, and there is no guarantee that another storm system will not strike the same area as the recovery is ongoing. Damage to airports, ports, rail lines, roads, and other transport infrastructure can lead to difficulties in receiving aid or other goods required in the aftermath of a hurricane. There are many other secondary long-term impacts which can be attributed to a hurricane, such as a drop in tourism, poor agricultural conditions for future crops, and even long-term mental and physical health impacts on the local community.

Preparation Measures

Regardless of the forecast levels of hurricane activity, anyone living, operating, traveling, or with business interests in areas that have the potential to be exposed to tropical systems are strongly advised to take measures to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season. Below are some simple tips on ensuring preparedness to be in a better position for the eventuality of being affected by hurricanes:

  • Assess your risk: Conduct a thorough hazard and vulnerability assessment to better understand your potential exposure to storm systems. Consider possible worst-case scenarios and the potential direct and indirect impacts these could have on your business, home, or premises. Try to gain a good understanding of what hazards are likely to have the largest impact and take any practical steps available to mitigate the level of risk. 
  • Review insurance policies: Ensure any business, home, or travel insurance policies cover any damage, cancellations, or loss of income that may be incurred following a hurricane. While some schemes may cover wind damage sustained during hurricane activity, supplementary protection policies could be required for derived events like flooding, landslides, or storm surges.
  • Stay informed: Monitor local weather agencies and local media for updates on storm systems. As a storm system approaches, agencies generally provide regular updates on the forecast track and intensity of the storm, so be sure to check regularly to ascertain the likely level of impact on your particular area of operations. Sign-up to travel security alerts, emergency management agency alerts, and any other available community alerts to ensure you are informed of any weather or local authority advisories regarding approaching storm systems. 
  • Have a plan in place: Create, review, or update any existing contingency, business continuity, or home emergency plans to ensure they are relevant and proportionate to the potential threat posed by hurricanes. Check that all emergency contact numbers are up to date and, where possible, identify evacuation routes in case the need arises. 
  • Have supplies ready to go: Gather an emergency kit or go-bag in case of the need to either shelter in place or evacuate. Essential items include (but are not limited to) water, non-perishable food, torches, first-aid kit, batteries, radio, medicines, sanitary products, cash, ID, and paper copies of any important documents, as internet access may not be possible in the aftermath of a storm. Be sure to regularly check that items in your kit are working and in date.

Staying Safe During and After a Hurricane

Meteorological agencies are often able to monitor the formation of hurricanes and other storm systems and gain a good understanding of their likely track and intensity as they develop. Therefore, some notice is usually given to potentially affected communities before a hurricane strikes. If there is enough notice and the option is available to self-evacuate before the arrival of a storm system, then it is advisable to do so at the earliest opportunity. Authorities can close airports and ports as the storm closes in, meaning the opportunity to leave may disappear at short notice. Various factors can mean it is not always possible to vacate the path of the storm, such as family or business commitments to an area or a late change in track or increase in intensity of a storm system. If you do find yourself in the position of having to ride out the storm, follow the below advice:

  • Final preparations: If there is time to do so, take measures to strengthen your home or premises against the possible impacts of the storm. Board up windows, secure any loose structures or items, and clear gutters to enable water to flow through them. Make sure electronic devices are fully charged in preparation for possible power outages. Take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with emergency or evacuation plans in case they need to be activated. 
  • Follow the advice of authorities: Continue to stay up to date with weather and media updates for information regarding the storm and any local authority advisories. Heed any evacuation orders issued and do not return until authorities have deemed it safe to do so. 
  • Hide from the wind, run from the water: As the storm passes, you should shelter in a designated shelter or interior room of your home away from any windows. Only leave if flooding occurs in your location, in which case move as safely as possible to higher ground. Do not attempt to drive or walk through floodwaters – turn around, don’t drown. Only call the emergency services if you are in life-threatening danger, as they are likely to be extremely stretched during this period. 
  • Post-hurricane: Beware of continuing hazards after a hurricane has passed. Only leave your place of shelter once authorities have confirmed it is safe to do so. A brief lull in the wind could be mistaken for the storm being over when in fact it is the eye of the storm passing through, and intense winds could soon return. Be careful and wear protective clothing during clean-up. Do not touch any electrical equipment if it has come into contact with water or if you are in standing water. Damp conditions can also provide a breeding ground for mold and water-borne diseases. Save phone calls for emergencies only. Phone systems could be down or overwhelmed so use SMS or social media to inform people you are safe and to check the safety of others. 

See Part 1 for Overview, 2024 Outlook, Headlines, and Atlantic Basin

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