The time period from 1 June to November 30 is known to the Atlantic Coast and the Caribbean as Hurricane Season. The Pacific coast of the US has a similar season, but starting in May as opposed to June. This is not to say Hurricanes don’t happen outside the season, this is just the most likely time frame. 2017 has been quite the active year. There have been 13 named storms at the time of this writing, and he US has been hit with several major storms this season. Hurricane Harvey, A category 4 storm, at its strongest point, pummeled Texas and Louisiana. Hurricane Irma a category 5 ravaged the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Then it set its sights on Florida. Irma Was billed as the strongest storm ever recorded. These storms were devastating, in terms of loss of property and loss of life. As I am writing this Hurricane Maria, now a category 4 Hurricane, is barreling down on the Caribbean Islands (again), and lining up for a strike on Puerto Rico.
The first step in protecting yourself and your loved ones is to stay informed. I am going write about a couple of free resources that you can use online to keep tabs on storms. I want to emphasize these are no replacement for the judgement of a trained meteorologist or emergency management officials. Tuning in to local media is the best option, as much is practicable. No matter what you may think based on this information, local officials may say you need to evacuate. If you have the means to do so you should follow their instructions. Safety should come first, but, I also believe in having all available information. These two resources will help you acquiring that information.
National Hurricane Center (The official US gov’t source)
The National Hurricane Center, or just NHC, is the Us government’s official outlet for information on tropical storms.. They offer maps, official track forecasts, and wind speed predictions. They also offer an array of radar and satellite imagery. They will provide you with the official forecast discussion and relevant warnings and watches, as well as marine information. Much of the information you will find here is the same, or similar to the source information many local meteorologists use. As this is an official product of NOAA, this is the recommended source. In addition to current storms NOAA also publishes the season outlook. This which is what they believe the season will look like, but it is only a prediction, not a guarantee.
Cyclocane – A simple solution
Cyclocane is a storm tracker built by an enterprising web designer named Haley Croft. It shows a map on the main page showing worldwide Hurricane and Tropical Storm activity. It also shows areas of possible storm formation. I like this website because the information is pulled from official sources. A lot of the information is actually pulled from NOAA, with some from other government sources. The website is clean and very easy to use, and everything loads quickly. I also like it because it shows multiple forecast models on the map, so you can see the deviation in the models as well. While I have not noticed any discrepancies in the data, most experts will recommend you always check official sources.
So, these are my two favorite sources for tracking Tropical Storms and Hurricanes. When a storm is coming, I always start at the NHC, for the official information. After that, I will follow along on Cyclocane, until It is abundantly clear there is no longer a threat. I want to reiterate that these resources are great; they are not a replacement for the judgement of a meteorologist. Even if these resources are suggesting that you are not in danger, if your local officials say you need to take action, you should follow their instructions. Rather, you should just have these as one more set of tools to add to your toolbox. Stay informed, and Stay Safe!