Maybe there is no normal anymore when it comes to tropical storms. Forecasters at Colorado State University say, “2021 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have above-normal activity. Sea surface temperatures averaged across the tropical Atlantic are currently near average, while subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal.”

Forecasters suggest the chances that different parts of the coasts will be hit from Texas to the New England area. They call these “Tropical Cyclone Impact Probabilities (defined as one or more storms within 50 miles of location).”

The 2021 Forecast Probability of Named Storm impact in some South Carolina cities: Charleston 59%, Georgetown 52%, Beaufort 54%. In North Carolina: New Hanover 57%, Dare 67%, Currituck 53%.

Forecasters also say the chances for total named storms hitting states is: NC 84%, SC 73%, VA 63%, FL 96%, GA 79%

What does this have to do with energy? Lots. Utilities must upgrade and harden their systems to improve reliability against bad weather. “Grid hardening and storm preparation will continue to be a heavy investment area for coastal utilities in the years to come. Six of the ten most costly hurricane seasons have occurred in just the past decade,” says Kent Knutson, Market Specialist with world-leading power systems provider, Hitachi ABB Power Grids.

Drones enable FPL assess hard-to-reach areas after a storm

“Hardening” the grid is a broad spectrum of activities. Newspaper Space Coast Daily describes Florida Power and Light’s plans in and near Palm Bay this year:

  • Ten Storm Secure Underground Program projects planned
  • Strengthening seven main power lines, including those that serve critical services that are necessary for communities to recover faster after major storms
  • Inspecting and clearing tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 83 miles of power lines
  • As of this year, will have inspected 100% of power poles in Palm Bay over the past eight-year inspection cycle, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards
  • Installing smart grid technology, including five automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur
  • Inspecting one main power line using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption

FPL crews after Storm ETA in Miami, November 2020

During 1981-2010, Atlantic hurricane seasons averaged 12.1 named storms (wind speeds between 39-73 mph), with 6.4 of those becoming hurricanes (wind speeds of at least 74 mph) and 2.7 becoming major hurricanes (wind speeds exceeding 111 mph). (Source)

Storms may be getting more intense, says this news story: ‘Monster’ hurricanes keep getting even stronger, analysis shows – the storms that gain hurricane strength have actually been growing stronger. “The simple answer to what is driving this trend lies in the fact that there is more warm water and warm, moist air in the atmosphere that serve as fuel to help maintain the intensity and strength of the storms.”

The North Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from the start of June to the end of November. Most tropical storms and hurricanes are seen during August-October.


Feature image: Hurricane Harvey, NOAA