In mid-August of each year, NOAA updates its hurricane activity predictions based on how water temperatures, Saharan dust, tropical wave development, and wind shear are changing - key elements affecting storm development. With hot water temperatures in the Atlantic and the late appearance of El Nino, the risk of an intense storm has doubled from a 40% chance to 60%, the agency says.
NOAA is now forecasting between 14 and 21 named storms, which is an increase over an initial May forecast of 12 to 17. A normal year has 14 named storms.
Of those named storms, NOAA predicts six to 11 will become hurricanes, which is more than the five to 9 predicted in May, two to five of which will become major hurricanes with winds reaching 110 mph. A typical hurricane season has 7 hurricanes, 3 of which are major.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Association, is advising mid-Atlantic residents to prepare for storms.
Wherever you are on in the mid-Atlantic, you need to have a plan, says FEMA Regional Administrator Mary Ann Tierney.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast an average Atlantic hurricane season this year, with 12 to 17 named storms, including 5-9 hurricanes, 1 to 4 of which could be major.
So far this year, four systems have formed in the Atlantic basin, but peak hurricane season starts in mid-August and runs through mid-October.
"It really only takes one (storm) to cause devastation in any given area," says David Manning, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Tierney is worried, however, that apathy in the mid-Atlantic region could cause residents to remain unprepared.
"The mid-Atlantic has a history of relatively minor hurricane impacts compared to parts of the country like Florida and the Gulf Coast. We're not practiced at hurricanes," Tierney said.
Whether a storm directly strikes the mid-Atlantic, the remnants of storms that land in Florida or South Carolina can still wreak havoc. In 2021, for example, remnants from Hurricane Ida destroyed parts of Southwest Virginia with flash floods and landslides.
Heavy downpours that accompany storms are projected only to become more intense and frequent as warm air holds more water vapor. Tornadoes are also more inclined to develop on the outskirts of storms as they pass over land.
FEMA recommends you treat storm preparedness just as you would a fire. Have a plan to connect with or meet up with family, make a home disaster kit and go-bag should you need to evacuate, and ensure your phone or computer is set up to receive alerts from local emergency organizations.
To help you get ready, here's a storm preparedness checklist you can use.
It's always better to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. Knowing that you are set before something happens offers invaluable peace of mind.
Sources: FEMA, WHYY/PBS