(SAVANNAH, GA) Today is the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. It’s expected to be an average season, with 10 to 16 named storms, of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes, including 1 to 4 predicted to reach major hurricane strength. However, that’s no guarantee that a storm won’t make a catastrophic landfall to our area. These forecast numbers do not include Hurricane Alex, which formed in January. This season started early when Tropical Storm Bonnie brought heavy rain to the area just last week.
Forecasters report that while El Niño is weakening and is likely to dissipate prior to this summer, the far North Atlantic is quite cold. The absence of El Niño should reduce the strong upper-level westerly winds that were present in the Caribbean and across portions of the tropical Atlantic last season.
“We don’t focus on the number of predicted storms,” says Dennis Jones, Interim Director of the Chatham Emergency Management Agency. “We watch every storm because we know it only takes one to significantly disrupt life and cause damage to our community. This is the time for residents to check their kits and develop family emergency and communication plans.”
With the start of the season CEMA has entered into Operating Condition 5, which represents the normal day-to-day operation level during hurricane season when there is no direct threat posed by a tropical cyclone. Typical actions include reviewing and updating plans, incorporating lessons learned and regular and vigilant monitoring of the Atlantic Basin. When a tropical cyclone poses a threat to any Gulf or Atlantic coast state, coordination efforts are initiated.
This year, CEMA took a long hard look at the word “Recommended” when it came to evacuations. The word implies there is a choice; however, if a major storm threatens Chatham County residents must evacuate the county. Starting this season, CEMA will no longer use the term ”Recommended” Evacuation, instead we will use “Evacuation” or “Mandatory” Evacuation. This change is to reflect the dangers residents will surely face should they stay behind.
To stay in the know this hurricane season, download our free app by searching “ChathamEMA” in the Apple or Android app store. To receive emergency information via text message, text “Follow ChathamEMA” to 40404. All of this information is available on the CEMA website at ChathamEmergency.org.
Public Information Officer
Chatham Emergency Management Agency
124 Bull Street, Suite 140
Savannah, GA 31401