ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 8, 2021) – As we hit mid-September, many experts in the atmospheric science community, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are proving to be right on their predictions of an active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Already, Tropical Storm Henri brought strong winds and rain to the coast of Rhode Island last month, knocking out power to more than 140,000 homes and flooding roadways. Hurricane Ida followed last week, battering Louisiana with 150-mph winds before moving to the Northeast, bringing tornadoes, heavy rain and flash flooding that left areas under a state of emergency. Now, Hurricane Larry is moving across open waters over the Atlantic and could soon approach Bermuda and eventually move close to North America.
Experts at the University at Albany are available to offer insight on the 2021 hurricane season, influences of climate change, and emergency preparedness challenges amid rising COVID-19 numbers in some states:
Kristen Corbosiero, associate professor and graduate program director, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences:
“The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season has been active and is projected to remain so through the peak of the season, which is typically mid-September. Forecasts of track and intensity have been excellent this season, but as tropical cyclones bring weather hazards such as storm surge, strong winds, flooding rains, and tornadoes, both at the coast and hundreds of miles inland, continued vigilance and accurate forecasts will be key during the ongoing global pandemic.”
Alex Greer, associate professor, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
“This hurricane season presents a unique challenge for affected residents because they have dual threats to address. Many of the protective actions related to COVID-19 require individuals to keep their distance from others, avoid crowded spaces, and abstain from unnecessary travel. The hazards associated with hurricanes, however, often require households to leave their homes and stay with friends, relatives, in shelters, or in unfamiliar settings where they are not equipped to stay in one place. Individuals preparing for hurricanes should consider where they would evacuate to if necessary and what kind of preparedness measures they need to have in place to be able to safely shelter.”
Samantha Penta, assistant professor, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
“Among the challenges facing survivors and responders dealing with the consequences of recent hurricanes is that they must do so while still contending with COVID-19. They must navigate the health and safety concerns presented by the virus and the hurricane damage using local, state, and federal systems experiencing resource and personnel strains from the ongoing COVID-19 response. With increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases alongside substantial hurricane damage, people in the areas affected by Ida are really responding to two extreme events, not one.”
Amber Silver, assistant professor, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
“People don’t make decisions in a vacuum. In a public health hazard, such as the coronavirus, recommended protective actions include social distancing, frequent hand washing and self-isolation. However, these actions are made difficult or impossible during widespread, rapid onset disasters, such as hurricanes. When two disasters with contrasting public health recommendations occur simultaneously, it can greatly complicate the ways that we respond.”
Brian Tang, associate professor, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
“We have already seen several significant landfalling hurricanes. Hurricane Grace hit Mexico as a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 hurricane, devastated parts of southeast Louisiana. Both hurricanes rapidly intensified over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters before landfall, resulting in an escalation of the risk to life and property. I am currently involved in a Navy-sponsored field program to observe hurricanes, so that we may collect more data to better understand the mechanisms that cause hurricanes like Grace and Ida to rapidly intensify.”
About the University at Albany:
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master’s, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, education, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.