‘Above normal’ hurricane season predicted for Louisiana

Staff Report

Gov. John Bel Edwards joined members of his cabinet and federal partners to encourage Louisiana residents to prepare for hurricane season, which begins in 28 days and is forecast to be “above normal.”

Each year, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness hosts a Rehearsal of Concept drill in advance of the start of hurricane season. The Governor and cabinet officials spoke following the drill in the state’s Emergency Operations Center.

“While we always hope and pray for the best, when it comes to hurricane season, everyone in Louisiana should prepare for the worst,” Edwards said. “Each person and family should be reviewing their plans for what they will do and where they will go if their community is affected by a hurricane this year. We know some people are still in the process of rebuilding their homes following the previous two hurricane seasons, which may mean their evacuation plans need to change, unfortunately. In addition, all Louisianans are affected by COVID. While the current risk level in Louisiana and hospitalizations are both low, it’s important that people get up-to-date with their COVID vaccinations so that they are better protected if they must evacuate or host others because of a storm.”

“This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week. It’s a time when we ask everyone to review their personal emergency plans, insurance coverage and restock their emergency supplies,” said GOHSEP Director Casey Tingle. “We hope you stay weather aware if we face a tropical threat and develop a communications plan with family members and co-workers before any storm approaches the state. The steps you take now could keep you and your family safe and speed up recovery after a storm. Find more preparedness information at GetAGamePlan.org.”

Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Louisiana has experienced five hurricanes in the course of the past two seasons, including the two strongest to make landfall in Louisiana history. Forecasters from Colorado State University are predicting 19 named storms, of which they believe nine could become hurricanes and four could reach major hurricane strength, with sustained winds of 111 miles an hour or greater.

Louisianans can visit GetAGameplan.org for information about how to prepare for hurricane season.

“We at the state level have been actively planning for hurricane sheltering and evacuation while keeping in mind we do not know what our COVID future holds. We are in a very strong position right now – stronger than we were last year, given the wide availability of the life-saving vaccines, advancements in therapeutics, and access to high-quality masks – but COVID is unfortunately not over,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney N. Phillips. “The preparation against COVID during hurricane season starts now, and there are concrete actions every one of us can do now to protect ourselves and our loved ones. When you are reviewing your family game plan, start by thinking about everyone in your household and what your individual risks and needs are. Make sure you, your family and those you could end up evacuating with stay up to date on the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have a loved one who uses electricity and battery-dependent assistive technology and medical devices, make a plan now in the event power is lost. And remember it’s OK to not be OK. We know all this planning for hurricane season can be stressful, and during the pandemic, it may be especially so. It’s not too soon to check on your neighbors and loved ones, and know there are resources available.”

“Last year we had 21 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes, two of which made landfall in Louisiana,” said Sec. Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “With hurricanes like Laura in 2020 and Ida in 2021 causing major damage in large areas of our state, more and more people will evacuate as these storms approach.  Given the uncertainty of future events, now is the time to make your evacuation plans, confirm destinations to protect your family and determine the best routes to reach that destination.  Make sure you know how to best access 511la.org on your phones or communications device and be prepared to use various routes depending on congestion and safety.”

"It's one thing to be prepared, it's another thing to be prepared in time," said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning. "I am encouraging all families planning to utilize a generator, of any kind, this hurricane season to get your equipment and supplies stocked up now and get those devices serviced, inspected and tested while there's time to make adjustments if needed. And at the very least, please, get a carbon monoxide alarm. A CO alarm can and will save your life and the lives of your loved ones."

“Throughout hurricane season, our Troopers and DPS Officers will work alongside our public safety partners across the state to ensure the safety of our citizens and travelers,” said Colonel Lamar Davis, State Police Superintendent. “Public safety is a shared responsibility, and we urge all residents to prepare now for a potentially dangerous storm.”