The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an “above normal” hurricane season this year, with the potential for three to six major hurricanes and as many as 21 named storms nationally.
It’s the seventh straight year the federal agency has predicted above normal activity, according to Richard Spinrad, a NOAA administrator, who made the announcement with other federal, state and local officials at the city's Office of Emergency Management headquarters in downtown Brooklyn Tuesday morning.
“It only takes one storm to damage your home, neighborhood and community,” Spinrad said. “Preparedness is key. Now is the time to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season.”
The dire 2022 predictions come on the heels of two busy hurricane seasons: 2020 was the most active season on record with 30 named storms and 2021 — with 21 named storms — was the third most active year, Spinrad said. Storms last year caused $78.5 billion dollars in damage across the United States, he said.
“We're seeing such a dramatic change in the type of weather events that we're facing as a result of climate change that we really have to get ahead of,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, New York City's former OEM commissioner. Climate scientists predict rainier and more intense storms as a side-effect of the warming climate and rising sea levels.
“As we work to try to change the effects that we're seeing from climate change, we have to be able, in the meantime, to reduce the impacts that we're seeing from the severe weather events,” she added.
City officials urged New York City residents to prepare for this year’s hurricane season, which runs from June through November, by signing up for emergency notifications with Notify NYC and to research whether they live in an evacuation zone and if so what kind.
While the maps detail the kind of coastal flooding and storm surge that could come from another major storm like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, they don’t account for localized flash flooding such as what happened during the remnants of Hurricane Ida last year. More than 7 inches of rain inundated low-lying parts of the city in a few short hours, killing 11 people who were trapped in flooded basement apartments. Only one of the six locations where New Yorkers died was in any kind of evacuation zone, according to the city’s maps.
“To put a flash flood map together with all of these different variables, the possibilities would be endless really,” Criswell said when asked by Gothamist why rainfall wasn’t included in the city’s evacuation maps. She added factors such as local infrastructure and terrain, coupled with where rainfall was heaviest, had contributed to flash flooding. “So our flood maps that FEMA works on are really about the storm surge inundation and what those impacts could be from hurricanes.”