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2020’s Record-Breaking Hurricane Season and How To Prepare

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

As if 2020 needed another reason to be unfortunately remembered by, this year’s hurricane season – with another two months to go – has already broken a shocking number of records. In this season alone, the tropics have been so busy that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has run out of names for the storms, and are onto their backup naming system that uses the Greek alphabet – which has only happened one other time in 2005, in which it went up to zeta (six letters in). This year, the premade list of 21 names has already been exhausted, and we are two names into the Greek alphabet as of Sep. 24.

Every three to seven years, a weather phenomenon known as La Niña occurs in which a group of components (such as weak winds and cooler seas) come together and create the perfect conditions for an active Atlantic storm season. Because of these conditions, La Niñas don’t only increase the total number of tropical systems that occur, but they also increase their overall intensity. This year, of course, we are experiencing one of these La Niña events, which was last seen in the U.S. in the fall of 2017 and would explain the insanely active season we’ve seen so far.

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So far in the 2020 hurricane season, there have been 23 named storms, which, according to The Washington Post, is already “roughly double the long term average for an entire season,” and the season is still going strong, not officially finishing until Nov. 30. In La Niña years, in particular, the late fall and early winter months can be especially harsh as the tropics remain warmer than they normally are at this time, and this year is no different. Those in areas where tropical systems are most common should remain diligent and keep an eye on the tropics for any new formations or tracks of current systems. In the same article, The Washington Post also mentions a tweet from The Weather Channel, in which they explain that this season has been so active that the only part of the southeast coastline of the United States that has been undisturbed is the west coast of Florida. The Weather Channel, however, also warns that October has “historically been a prime month for a tropical threat in that area.”

With an already incredibly active season proving to be harsh on some of the coastal areas in the southeast, those in the hot zone for tropical systems need to make sure to prepare for another active few months as we round out the season. To help prepare, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a few guidelines and tips that will help you get through a hurricane from the beginning to the end.

Before a tropical system arrives, be sure to have the basics for survival in case they are needed. This includes a backup generator, a stock of emergency food and supplies, hurricane shutters, insurance, an evacuation plan and a way to monitor local weather alerts as well as the storm’s track. During the tropical storm or hurricane, be sure to listen to local authorities, evacuate if told, stay indoors in a low-lying room where blown-in windows and doors are not a hazard, avoid floodwaters when driving and move to higher ground to escape flooding if needed. In the aftermath of the system, make sure to only return to affected areas once they have been cleared, be on the lookout for downed or unstable telephone poles, wires, trees and other structures and avoid water from the tap unless it has been cleared by local officials.

So, as the next two months of this historic and already record-breaking hurricane season passes, be sure to keep updated with the weather and be prepared for anything that might come your way; just because fall has begun, doesn’t mean hurricane season is any closer to being over. Stay prepared, stay aware, and stay safe this hurricane season.

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Erin graduated from Florida State University in May 2023 with a B.S. in Public Relations pursuing her career in marketing in Austin, Texas.
Her Campus at Florida State University.