This Year’s Hurricane Forecast Is In

Last week, we uncovered trucking’s peril with tornado alley. After such a read, what could possibly be more extreme than a tornado? Surely, nothing can match the viciousness from the 300 mile per hour winds of these freight train-sounding death vortexes, right?

Wrong. Ever heard of hurricanes?

A hurricane is the edgier older brother of tornadoes. It’s the kind of older brother that skips class while smoking cigarettes outside the bowling alley. After all, hurricanes are earth’s largest storms.

Easily capable of threatening lives and battering critical infrastructure, these powerful ocean-spawned storms are a perennial threat to America’s East and Gulf coasts.

June spells the start of hurricane season

While June can be known for pleasant things like outdoor baseball games or cabin getaways, the month also marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The season of terror reigns from June 1 to November 30. Every year ahead of June, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a government agency, publish its outlook for the upcoming hurricane season.

Last year, the NOAA predicted an “above-average” season for Atlantic much to anxiety of many.

The season was ultimately punctuated by September’s Hurricane Ian, a category four (strongest is five) storm that walloped Florida’s western and central communities.

Like monster storms of years’ past, clean up efforts are still happening as countless Floridian cities’ infrastructure were pummeled.

Suffice to say after an active 2022 for the Atlantic, fingers were crossed ahead of the NOAA’s outlook for 2023.

“Near-normal” hurricane activity forecasted for 2023

In a May 25 news release, the government agency fortunately predicts a tamer year for hurricane mischief (knock on wood).

In partnership with the Climate Prediction Center (apart of the National Weather Service), the NOAA expects near-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic for the 2023 campaign.

More specially, the agency pens a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season, and lastly (but hopefully), a 30 percent chance of a below-normal season.

12 to 17 “named” storms (winds of 39 mph or higher) are forecasted this year, while five to nine of these becoming hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher).

Like tornadoes, where storm intensity is measured on a EF0 to EF5 scale, hurricanes follow a similar criteria through categories, one through five.

The NOAA forecasts of the five to nine hurricanes that may emerge this year, one to four of these could be stronger storms donning a category three, four, or five designation. That means winds of at least 111 mph or higher.

The NOAA has 70 percent confidence in these ranges.

Hurricanes are a real threat for truckers

Regardless of what the forecast says, hurricanes are a real threat every year. While these powerful storms live most of their lives away on open water, when they do make landfall, they will impact far more than just the coast. Cities, roadways, or any other infrastructure seldom hold their ground when faced against a hurricane.

The torrential rain, flooding, violent winds, and debris can carry over miles inland. Certain interstates and highways straddle the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These popular trucking lanes are right in the mix whenever a hurricane does hit.

Among countless highways and interstates, Interstate 95 and Interstate 10 are perhaps the most at-risk freight corridors given their volume of traffic and close proximity to the Atlantic and Gulf coast, respectively.

Truckers hauling freight in the deep south or eastern U.S. must have plans in place in the event of an imminent hurricane. Here’s how they can prepare.

Safety first

Like any emergency, truckers must account for their individual safety first. Under no circumstance, should a trucker go cavalier and hurl down I-90 with a 53-foot intermodal container underneath a category five hurricane.

It’s advice we’ve used on a every safety or weather-related blog—the load can wait.

Watch out for flooding

Hurricanes are synonymous with torrential rainfall. Flooding poses a maintenance nightmare for truckers and is virtually a guaranteed result of when one of these natural disasters rolls through.

Truckers should watch for flood zones and avoid driving or parking their vehicles on low ground. If they must drive or park somewhere, truckers should do so on higher ground.

Top off the rig

In the event of a hurricane, fuel is liquid gold. Truckers should ensure their vehicles are topped off in case they need evacuate or reroute around a certain area. Waiting until the last minute may prove costly as gas stations may be closed or congested with other vehicles trying to fill up

Stay updated with forecasts and advisories

While responsible fleet managers should be on top of this for their crews already, it also won’t hurt for truckers to keep a pulse themselves on nearby weather developments.

Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes don’t make surprise appearances. Modern day forecasting models can track a storm’s projected path days out. If a big one is coming, it’s likely local officials have already evacuated and shut down areas in the hurricane’s trajectory.

However, that said, truckers should pay close attention to any updated restrictions or evacuations.

While, a hurricane’s presence is predictable, the storm’s true power can be uncertain. Even if one appears weakening as it makes its way inland or up the coast, truckers should still understand the risk these storms bring and how strong they really are.

Final Thoughts

Besides weather radios and local advisories, a valuable resource to use is the NOAA’s hurricane tracking model. The technology provides real-time updates on any hurricanes or tropical storms and where they’re expected to hit.

At the end of the day, the trucking industry should expect considerable delays in operations should a hurricane be on the forecast. For truckers, it’s important to adhere to these tips and prioritize their own safety.

Please contact one of our team members if you have any further questions on this topic or any others in domestic logistics.

In addition, stay up to date with weekly headlines from both trucking and rail via our Road Map newsletter.

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