Stormy weather on Ocracoke Island. Photo: P. Vankevich

By Peter Vankevich

Hurricane Awareness Week runs from May 1 through May 7. For this, the National Weather Service out of Newport/Moorhead City has prepared an online informational package. They urge folks to read it and bookmark it so the information can easily be found when a major storm is heading out way.  https://www.weather.gov/mhx/hurricaneprep

The Atlantic hurricane season is just around the corner, beginning June 1 and ending on Nov. 30.

One of the premier forecasters, Colorado State University’s Tropical Weather & Climate Research Division, is predicting another higher-than-average season for the Atlantic Basin with 19 tropical storms, nine hurricanes, four of which are expected to be major, i.e., with sustained winds of 111 mph or higher.

 “It’s important to be prepared by having a family emergency plan and emergency kit, which will help you to survive the impacts of a storm and recover faster,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a statement about this week.

The state is currently recovering from the devastating effects of multiple large storms including Tropical Storm Fred, which caused devastation and six deaths in Western North Carolina last year, he said. In 2020 Hurricane Isaias and the remnants of Hurricane Eta pummeled parts of the state; as did Hurricane Dorian in 2019 (with Ocracoke having been hit the hardest); Hurricane Florence, Tropical Storms Michael and Alberto in 2018; and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

 The average Atlantic hurricane season between 1991 and 2020 contained 14 tropical storms, seven hurricanes, three major hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was the third-most active on record, producing 21 named storms, and seven hurricanes, four of which were major.

According to the National Weather Service, the most active tropical storm activity in North Carolina occurs in August, September and October, but storms can occur as early as May and as late as the end of November.

Here is the name list of tropical storms that originate in the Atlantic Basin—the area encompassing the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.

Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Martin, Nicole, Owen, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie and Walter.

If there are more than 21 named tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin in a season, the storms will take names from an alternate list.

They are Adria, Braylen, Caridad, Deshawn, Emery, Foster, Gemma, Heath, Isla, Jacobus, Kenzie, Lucio, Makayla, Nolan, Orlanda, Pax, Ronin, Sophie, Tayshaun, Viviana and Will.

For a storm to be named, it must reach a minimum sustained wind speed of 39 mph.

Storms that reach a sustained wind speed of 74 mph on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale qualifies as a hurricane. As intensities rise, they are classified up to Category 5 if they reach winds of 157 mph and over.