Forecasters expect busy 2021 hurricane season

Staff Report

Hurricane season could bring very little rest to the storm-weary, according to predictions from the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters predict between 13 and 20 named storms for the 2021 season, which began Tuesday.

Hurricane Delta kept work crews busy in Plaquemine and throughout Iberville Parish in October 2020, during a record storm season. Forecasters expect at least 13 hurricanes for 2021.

The 2021 season follows a record-breaking season that included 30 named storms – two more than the previous record set in 2005, when Katrina and Rita routed Louisiana.

Last year’s storm list included Hurricane Laura, which carried sustained winds of 150 mph when it made landfall near Cameron on Aug. 27. It marked the strongest wind speed at landfall for a Louisiana hurricane since 1856.

In addition, a rare October hurricane brought severe wind damage to Maringouin, as well as neighboring Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes.

Storms for this year include: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.

Preparing for a storm

Create a plan that includes: how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings, a shelter plan, your evacuation route and your family/household communication plan.

  • Sign up for your local emergency management alert system using apps like FEMA, Hurricane: American Red Cross, My Radar and NOAA. 
  • Stock up on emergency supplies to support you, for a minimum of five days, should you need to shelter-in-place; don’t forget things like medications and pet supplies.
  • Prepare a “go-bag” in case you need to evacuate with short notice. Your bag should have important documents, medicines, bottled water, a small first aid kit, blankets, flashlights, cash in small bills, a portable phone charger/cables and anything else your family might need in an emergency. 
  • Prepare and protect your property by clearing drains and gutters, installing check valves in plumbing to prevent backups, trimming or removing trees close enough to fall on your home and consider hurricane shutters. If you have NFIP flood insurance for your property, your policy may cover up to $1,000 in loss avoidance measures, such as sandbags and water pumps
  • Prepare financially by reviewing insurance policies, understanding the exclusions and considering how you would cover any gaps. Consider how you would access funds if you are directly affected by a storm

During the Storm

Here are actions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones when you face a direct threat from a hurricane: 

  • Stay aware and connected, frequently checking storm updates and local evacuation orders. 
  • Review your plan with your family to make sure everyone in your household knows what to expect and how they will respond when the storm hits. 
  • Double-check your emergency supplies and restock if needed; ensure all of your important documents are in order and your “go-bag” is ready. 
  • Protect valuable possessions by storing any irreplaceable items, safe from wind damage and floodwaters; putting electronics and documents in water-tight containers and Ziplock bags is recommended. Photographs contain priceless memories, and we’ve found that the loss of them can be painful; don’t forget to protect any cherished photo albums. 
  • Take stock of your home; take photos of the outside and inside of your home, consider the likely impacts to the home, such as losing power and the consequences of that (e.g. food spoiling in the fridge) and try to lessen the effect of the impacts wherever you can. 
  • Prepare your vehicle by filling your gas tank in case you need to evacuate and stocking it with your emergency supplies and changes of clothes. If there isn’t a mandatory evacuation, consider parking your vehicle on higher ground in case of flooding.
  • Protect your property by installing plywood or storm shutters over your windows and checking the property for any loose objects that could become projectiles during the storm and secure them. 
  • Charge your cell phone so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.
  • Practice dynamic risk assessment during the storm. This means you constantly monitor the situation and identify potential hazards and threats, putting controls in place to protect yourself and your family.