Hurricane Watch 2018: Above-Average
According to researchers at Colorado State University, global conditions (read: warming seas) indicate a slight uptick in hurricane activity this year; 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes aka "about 120 percent of the long-period average." But the difference between 0 and 1 is really the most critical one for communities harmed by hurricanes. Last year, that meant $369Bn+ in damages and 330-1,724 deaths from three major storms: Harvey, Irma, and Maria (AccuWeather).
Once again, global warming (née climate change) plays a major role: "Last season had near-record warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic," said Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University. (CNN) And this year is no different. (NOAA)
If you live in one of the highest-risk states, Florida, Louisiana, or Texas, or in an Atlantic-coastal community (especially areas in the Gulf South) you understand too well that a hurricane is so much more than a simple weather phenomena; it's a socio-emotional catastrophe with long-ranging impacts on community resiliency, health, and a host of other metrics. So-called "social vulnerability" factors such as poverty, proximity to support systems, limited mobility, and communications barriers like speaking limited English, having difficulty hearing or even being far from a cell tower can worsen an already devastating situation.
"Effective emergency response takes into account complex relationships between social factors and natural events." Andrew Schroeder, Direct Relief
To prepare for any disaster "season", we must pay significant attention to the most vulnerable among us - that's where we can have the most impact.