Forecasters predict ‘above normal’ hurricane season that begins June 1

Sussex County offers ways to prepare in advance


GEORGETOWN – If the forecast is accurate, Sussex County and its coastal communities could be in for an active Atlantic hurricane season.

With forecasters predicting an “above normal” storm season for the six-month hurricane season that begins June 1, the Sussex County Department of Public Safety/Division of Emergency Management reminds the public to be ready by taking various preparedness steps now – including creating a disaster kit – to limit damage and avoid loss of life, whatever the weather.

“Prepare, plan, and be ready should the unfortunate occur. The time to do all of that is before a storm is approaching,” said Robert W. Murray, Sussex County Public Safety director and the County’s acting emergency manager. “Ensure that your plan takes into account visiting family or friends, and that it covers both sheltering-in-place needs, as well as evacuation plans should that need arise.”

Sussex County saw few effects from tropical weather during the 2023 season, the exception being a weakened Tropical Storm Ophelia in September, with most storms tracking away from the region. Still, last year was an above average season in the Atlantic basin, with 20 named storms during the season, including seven hurricanes, three of which were major and caused billions of dollars in damage.

For the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an above normal season, with 17 to 25 named systems possible. Of those, eight to 13 could become hurricanes, with four to seven possibly reaching Category 3 strength or higher, according to NOAA’s May 23 forecast.

Forecasters expect warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and a developing La Niña weather pattern – the cooling of waters in the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean – to shape the 2024 season.

No matter the number of storms forecast, all it takes is one to come to fruition and wreak havoc. That’s why preparation is key ahead of each season, officials said.

One step that residents can take ahead of hurricane season is to create a Safety Profile for their household with the free Smart911™ service to provide potentially critical, life-saving information up front to first responders. Profiles can contain as much or as little information as users want, including details about their properties, special medical conditions and family contacts.

There are several steps to make your home and family ready for hurricane season:

  • If you live in a flood-prone or other vulnerable area, be prepared to evacuate. Plan your evacuation route now. Emergency managers will notify the public, via the media, of what areas should evacuate and when. In the event you evacuate, take a storm kit. Take valuable and/or important papers. Secure your house by locking the windows and doors. Turn off all utilities. Notify a family member or someone close to you outside the evacuation area of your destination.
  • Secure all outdoor items.
  • Have a family disaster kit. This kit should include the following items: a three-day supply of water, at least one gallon of water per person per day; non-perishable foods and a manual can opener; a change of clothes and shoes for each person; prescription medicines; a blanket or sleeping bag and pillow for each person; personal hygiene items; flashlight and extra batteries for each person; special needs items, such as formula and diapers for infants, as well as items needed for elderly or disabled family members; a portable radio with extra batteries; money (during power outages, ATMs will not work); fuel. Gas pumps are also affected by power outages.
  • In the event of an approaching storm, travel during daylight hours. When a storm watch is issued, monitor the storm on the radio and television. An evacuation could take 24 to 36 hours prior to a storm’s onset.
  • If ordered to evacuate and seek shelter elsewhere, follow the instructions of local emergency managers. Authorities will announce shelter locations in advance of their opening. Make provisions for your pets, as many shelters will not accept animals.
  • If not ordered to evacuate and you decide to take shelter in your home, have your disaster kit ready. Keep your important papers with you or store them in the highest, safest place in your home, and in a waterproof container. Secure your home by locking the doors and windows. Turn off all utilities. Monitor the storm by portable radio to keep up with the latest information.
  • Use your phone sparingly. Report emergencies to 911.

Name Game

The tropical cyclone names for 2024 are: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Francine, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Milton, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie, and William.

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