NHC Proposal: Start the Atlantic hurricane season earlier

Published: Feb. 27, 2021 at 12:33 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2021 at 6:43 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - With tropical cyclones forming before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season in recent years, the National Hurricane Center made a proposal of potentially starting the season nearly two weeks early.

The proposal was discovered by multiple meteorologists and news organizations - including the Washington Post - Friday in an agenda for a virtual hurricane committee meeting scheduled for March by the World Meteorological Organization. The proposal was found and verified by the Pinpoint Weather Team.

This screen grab (from Feb. 27) shows a document from the World Meteorological Organization...
This screen grab (from Feb. 27) shows a document from the World Meteorological Organization with a proposal from the National Hurricane Center to discuss moving the start date of the season from June 1 to May 15.(World Meteorological Organization)

The National Hurricane Center proposes to draft tropical weather outlooks starting May 15, analyze whether the move would be useful and propose their findings at future meeting, according to the agenda. Then they would meet again in a future meeting to discuss the findings and whether a move of the date would still be necessary.

The move of the date would eliminate confusion between the start dates of the eastern Pacific Ocean season and the Atlantic’s season, and also increase lead time and public awareness, according to the proposal.

The meeting to discuss the proposal will be March 15-17.

“At least 20 direct deaths have occurred from these late May storms since 2012 with about [$200 million] in total damage, and one of these systems was a 60-kt (69-mph) tropical storm at landfall,” the proposal stated.

Also, in a statement from the National Hurricane Center sent to the Pinpoint Weather Team, they said that “[n]amed storms have formed prior to the official start of the hurricane season in about half of the past 10-15 years, including each of the past six years.”

Subtropical cyclone or tropical cyclone development before June 1 has taken place in the last seven out of ten years, according to archived seasonal data. One of those early storms included a hurricane that developed near the Azores in the North Atlantic Ocean in January 2016.

At least one local emergency manager said that a earlier start date of the hurricane season may not be a bad idea.

“I think it would just enhance or heighten the message we are trying to get out from an emergency management to be ready, to be prepared, to have your kits,” said Kevin Peters, the emergency management director for Leon County.

The story was updated Monday to add the National Hurricane Center’s statement, an interview with Kevin Peters, and the television story.

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