Pinellas spared as another above-average hurricane season is done

Only three names remained on the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season’s list. The season, which ran from June 1-Nov. 30, produced 18 named storms, six hurricanes and three major storms, Category 3, 4 or 5.

The 2019 hurricane season is over. The above-average season with 18 named storms and six hurricanes including three major storms, Category 3, 4 or 5, ended Nov. 30.

This year was the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, according to a press release from NOAA. The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001.

In addition, five tropical cyclones formed in the Gulf of Mexico in 2019, which ties a record with 2003 and 1957 for the most storms to form in that region.

NOAA’s outlook called for 10-17 named storms, five-nine hurricanes and two-four major hurricanes. An average Atlantic hurricane season has 12 named storms with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

The three major hurricanes this season were Dorian, which provided a good exercise in preparedness for Pinellas County, Humberto and Lorenzo.

NOAA says Hurricane Dorian tied with three other hurricanes — the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, 1988’s Hurricane Gilbert and 2005’s Hurricane Wilma — as the second strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin in terms of wind (185 mph). In all, four storms made landfall in the U.S. during the 2019 season: Barry, Dorian, Imelda and Nestor.

“This season’s activity ramped up in mid-August during the normal peak of the season, as we predicted,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The above-normal activity is consistent with the ongoing high-activity era, driven largely by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, which entered a warm phase in 1995. Conditions that favored more, stronger, and longer-lasting storms this year included a stronger West African monsoon, warmer Atlantic waters, and weak vertical wind shear across the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.”

Now that the season is over, Cathie Perkins, director of Pinellas County Emergency Management, has a few tips about what to do with the supplies in your hurricane kit and other off-season preparedness tips.

“When it is time to unpack your hurricane kit, consider donating the canned items to a local food collection site to share with those less fortunate,” Perkins writes in the final hurricane newsletter of the season. “If you do donate your food, please check the expiration date first.”

Perkins also reminds residents that disaster preparedness is a year-round effort and the need for it never expires.

“Pinellas County has its fair share of tornadoes each winter season and there are other hazards for which we must always prepare,” she said.

She says there are steps residents of mobile homes and manufactured homes can take to make the home better able to withstand heavy winds from a hurricane or tornado. For more information, visit www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/mobiletips.htm.

“For the holiday gift-giving season, emergency supplies make great gifts,” Perkins says.

She suggests items such as solar cellphone chargers, hand-cranked radios, battery-operated lanterns and camping gear in general, which can be useful year-round.

Perkins says the winter season is also an excellent time to plan larger projects to protect your home, such as replacing windows and garage doors, securing your gable roof or removing diseased trees from your property.

For more information, email ema@pinellascounty.org or call 727-464-3800.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.