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hurricanes

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season starts today, so what can we expect? NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates a 60% chance of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020. “Although NOAA scientists don’t expect this season to be as busy as last year, it only takes one storm to devastate a community,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator.

For 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to five major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected. NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Last year’s record-breaking season should serve as a reminder to all residents in coastal regions or areas prone to inland flooding from rainfall to be prepared for the 2021 hurricane season.

Hurricane-Resistant Landscapes

So how can you make a landscape more hurricane-resistant? Here are some basic tips from Gardening Solutions, a program of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS):

  • Right Tree, Right Place – Choose trees that are well-suited for the landscape. Plant larger trees away from homes, power lines, and other structures. This reduces the risk of branches—or trees—falling on a home. It also prevents them from knocking down power lines.
  • Choose Wind-resistant Species – Some trees are more wind-resistant than others. Suggested wind-resistant varieties for the Florida region include sabal, manila, and pygmy date palms. Gumbo limbo, live oak, and sea grape also have high hurricane survival rates.
  • Regular Pruning and Maintenance – Assess trees, paying close attention to the branches. Remove limbs that are dying, damaged, or weakly connected to the trunk. Thinning or reducing the crown can reduce trunk movement during a hurricane. You can also prune to reshape the tree. When done correctly, reshaping can make trees more resistant to wind damage.
  • Planting in Groups or Masses – Planting groups of mixed trees together can greatly enhance wind resistance. The trees buffer each other as well as the property and landscape plants.

The Atlantic hurricane season extends through November 30. NOAA will provide an update to the Atlantic outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season. Additionally, NOAA predicts the 2021 eastern Pacific hurricane season, which officially runs from May 15 through November 30, has an 80% chance of being near- or below-normal. There is a 45% chance of near-normal tropical cyclone activity during the Central Pacific hurricane season this year, according to NOAA. The outlook also indicates a 35% chance for below-normal activity, and 20% chance of an above-normal season.

Visit FEMA’s Ready.gov to be prepared for the start of hurricane season and the National Hurricane Center’s website at hurricanes.gov throughout the season to stay current on watches and warnings. Also check out the University of Florida’s Trees and Hurricanes website. This resource provides detailed information on storm damage prevention and treatment.