On June 6, a tropical depression dumped almost a foot of water in South Florida; Brickell Avenue, where I live, was flooded in many parts. Tourists were stymied by the rains for several days.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration classification system categorizes weather events of increasing intensity as tropical depressions, tropical storms, and Category 1 through Category 5 hurricanes — based on maximum sustained wind speeds, but not reflecting the volume or intensity of rainfall.
Yet rainfall and flooding often cause more damage than wind, with destruction often outside of a hurricane’s cone of greatest intensity, and even extending far beyond areas most commonly affected by hurricanes.
When traveling you can’t be sure when storms will come, but you should be aware as you plan so that you can best adapt should there be a problem.
One way to avoid a ruined vacation is to check weather predictions before making decisions, especially if you’re traveling in the hurricane zone or any area where weather problems are most likely to affect your trip.
NOAA’s seasonal forecast for 2022 is for overall Atlantic hurricane activity and does not predict how many storms will pass near or over land. For the seventh consecutive year, NOAA predicts a 65 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, though storms increasingly can develop earlier or later. NOAA predicts 14 to 21 named storms, a category that includes all tropical cyclones with top winds of at least 39 miles per hour.
Six to 10 of these storms are expected to reach hurricane strength, with winds of at least 74 miles per hour. Three to six of these are expected to reach Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour
Factors that influence NOAA’s forecast:
— La Niña, a climactic pattern that has been in place on and off since 2020, and is expected to persist through the entire hurricane season, maintaining conditions conducive to hurricane formation.
— A strong West African monsoon, which supports the development of areas of low atmospheric pressure known as African easterly waves.
—Tropical Atlantic trade winds are weaker than average, which makes it easier for a developing storm to develop without being ripped apart by wind shear.
— Unusually warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean this summer. Storms gain strength as they pass over warm water.
With climate change upon us, including predications of more frequent and powerful storms, travelers are wise to adapt plans to reflect whatever natural events are likely to occur. And with that, we can be satisfied that we’ve done our best in the face of the new normal —and hopefully enjoy storm-free travels.