Last night, torrential rains ripped across New York City, causing serious flooding and power outages, and briefly turning the FDR into a sad excuse for a river. The weather pattern is expected to continue throughout today, in a rather ominous start to the 2015 Hurricane Season.
In what can only be seen only as a totally apropos coincidence, the next “named storm” to form in the Atlantic will be known as Bill.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be “below-normal,” with “a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms, of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes, including zero to 2 major hurricanes.”
That’s good news, but no excuse to put off the hurricane prep. “A below-normal season doesn’t mean we’re off the hook,”said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “As we’ve seen before, below-normal seasons can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities,”
Indeed, in 2012, predictions also called for a relatively quiet season—which it was, until Superstorm Sandy made landfall in October.
Know Your Zone—No Seriously, It Takes Five Seconds
Earlier this year, an independent study found that only 16% of New Yorkers know their level of risk for a hurricane and whether they live in an evacuation zone. Fewer than one in five New Yorkers has a plan for where to go if they are ordered to evacuate ahead of a hurricane.
NYC Emergency Management launched a “Know Your Zone” hurricane awareness campaign last year, making it super simple for New Yorkers to find out whether they live in one of the city’s six evacuation zones. All you have to do is visit NYC.gov/knowyourzone, and click “Find Your Zone.”
This year, the Know Your Zone campaign is supported with a new hurricane preparedness video, updated advertising for the 2015 hurricane season, social media engagement (#knowyourzone), and community outreach. The Know Your Zone website — NYC.gov/knowyourzone — is also updated with information about the city’s hurricane evacuation zones, hurricane hazards, and tips to prepare for storms.
A New Way to Visualize Surge
NOAA is debuting a new storm surge watch/warning graphic in 2015, intended to highlight areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts that could face significant risk of inundation by storm surge.
Storm surge and wind are the two greatest threats to life and property from a hurricane. However, they occur at different times and locations—and call for different protective action. In general, coastal residents most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from winds, but evacuations are often needed to keep people safe from storm surge.
NOAA anticipates that having separate warnings for these two hazards should provide emergency managers, the media, and the general public better guidance hurricane hazards.