The 2016 hurricane season started early with Hurricane Alex hitting the Atlantic in January and Tropical Storm Bonnie following. While the early storms might seem to point to a turbulent summer, hurricane season predictions call for an average hurricane season. While this is good news for those with businesses along the Atlantic basin and Gulf Coast, you should still take hurricane season preparation seriously. Just one storm can have devastating consequences on your operations.
2016 Hurricane Season Predictions
Many weather experts look to Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project for its annual hurricane and tropical cyclone forecasts. On June 1, 2016, the university staff predicted that this hurricane season has “near-average probability” in regards to hurricanes touching land along the Caribbean and U.S. coastlines. Earlier in the year, predictions were not as certain because of the air pressure and cycles of warm and cold temperatures produced by El Niño in the Pacific Ocean. Now, experts predict that El Niño will transition into weaker La Niña conditions by the peak of the 2016 hurricane season.
The following is what the Tropical Meteorology Project predicts for the current season based on 29 years of historical data, El Niño and La Niña conditions, and weather patterns in the Atlantic Ocean:
- Number of named storms: 12
- Number of hurricanes: 5
- Number of major hurricanes (categories 3 to 5): 2
- Probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall on any U.S. coastline: 50 percent
- Probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula: 30 percent
- Probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall along the Gulf Coast, from the Florida panhandle to Brownsville, Texas: 29 percent
- Probability of at least one major hurricane affecting the Caribbean: 40 percent
Learn more about the probability of hurricanes affecting specific states along the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast on four of Colorado State University’s latest report.
Hurricane Season Preparation
If you live in an area that might be affected by a tropical storm or hurricane, now is the time to start preparing your business for a storm.
Protect your property
- Hire a professional to inspect the roof to determine if it will survive a storm.
- Remove trees and trim back branches that could fall onto your commercial building.
- Install storm shutters over doors and windows. If the shutters aren’t in your budget, stock enough plywood to cover windows and entrances.
- Stock up on sandbags so they’re ready in the event of a flood warning.
- Anchor large furniture (e.g., bookcases) to wall studs to prevent falling.
- Relocate essential equipment, documents, vulnerable items and electronics. If your building has more than one story, move these items to an upper level. If not, make plans to move them to a secure off-site location in the event of a storm warning.
- Know the location of water, gas and electricity shutoffs so you can turn them off quickly when there is a warning.
Protect documents and data
- Prepare a list of employees, clients and contacts that are essential to your operations and business continuity (i.e., vendors, insurance agents, remediation specialists). Keep a copy of the contacts in an accessible off-site location.
- Makecopies of essential documents (e.g., legal contracts, tax returns and insurance documents) that are not simple to reproduce if lost.
- Keep essential documents in waterproof containers. If you have several documents, invest in water-resistant, fireproof file cabinets.
- Make digital copies of the documents kept in file cabinets and other storage areas. Store the digital files in a cloud-based system that you can access off-site.
The businesses that recover the fastest with minimal impacts are those with a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan and a plan to recover after a storm. If you don’t already have a plan in place or don’t know where to start, contact Polygon to enroll in the free Document Code Blue program. Membership entitles you to receive expert assistance in creating a document recovery plan for your critical business documents. Contact Polygon to sign up today.
[Photo from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via CC License 2.0]