Weather

It's the First Day of Hurricane Season and Mother Nature's Not Wasting Any Time

A development in the tropics is headed toward South Florida at the start of the 2022 hurricane season.
A development in the tropics is headed toward South Florida at the start of the 2022 hurricane season. Photo courtesy of National Weather Service
It's officially the first day of hurricane season, and the tropics have certainly gotten the memo.

Not only have authorities issued multiple flood advisories for most of Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the past week, but the National Weather Service (NWS) announced on Twitter yesterday that a "large and complex area of low pressure is expected to develop" in the Gulf of Mexico, and that South Florida can expect to feel some of its effects by the end of the week. Forecasters give it a 70 percent chance of developing, with South Florida already in its expected path.  For the past six years, the NWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have predicted above-average Atlantic hurricane seasons (even after the NOAA updated its classifications last April for an "average" season from one with 12 named storms and six hurricanes to one with 14 named storms and seven hurricanes).

This year the NOAA predicts that 2022 will be another above-average hurricane season for the seventh year in a row.

"For the 2022 hurricane season, NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence," the agency stated in a recent release.

Weather scientists believe climate change is causing more frequent and more intense storms, which only stand to get worse as the planet continues to warm. In response to stronger hurricanes forming in the tropics, Florida International University — home of the Wall of Wind hurricane testing facility — was awarded a grant earlier this year to build a "Cat 6 prototype facility" to simulate and study potential storms with sustained wind speeds of more than 182 mph.

The NOAA attributes its prediction for stronger and more frequent hurricanes this year to the ongoing La Niña weather phenomenon, which leads to cooler water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and warmer-than-average surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

The agency urges residents to start preparing now. Miami-Dade County recommends a hurricane supply checklist that includes seven days' worth of nonperishable food, water, battery-powered devices, and a first-aid kit.

Judging by the amount of flooding on Miami streets nowadays, you might want to throw in a raft and some paddles. Parts of Miami-Dade are already battling heavy rains, drivers in Miami Lakes and Hialeah continue to document that cars might not be the best vehicle of choice for the inundated roadways, and the NWS says it'll only get worse as locals brace for another "wet, unsettled week ahead...with strong storms and heavy rain."

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Joshua Ceballos is staff writer for Miami New Times. He is a Florida International University alum and a born-and-bred Miami boy.
Contact: Joshua Ceballos