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Monday, May 24 2021
Just days after weather forecasters predicted another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, Ana launched the season by forming off of Bermuda.
Ana reached Tropical Storm status early on Sunday northeast of Bermuda, but then weakened to a Tropical Depression. The National Weather Service said Ana is expected to dissipate by Monday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’ (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is predicting a 60% chance of an above-normal season this year, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
However, NOAA does not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020.
Ana was the first “named storm” in the Atlantic this year even though the hurricane season does not officially start until June 1. The season runs through November 30.
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 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected. NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.
Last month, NOAA updated the statistics used to determine when hurricane seasons are above-, near-, or below-average relative to the latest climate record. Based on this update an average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which 7 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.
El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are currently in the neutral phase, with the possibility of the return of La Nina later in the hurricane season. However, these phases support the conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era, according to Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
“Predicted warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon will likely be factors in this year’s overall activity,” Rosencrans said.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are now using an upgraded probabilistic storm surge model — known as P-Surge — which includes improved tropical cyclone wind structure and storm size information that offers better predictability and accuracy. This upgrade extends the lead time of P-Surge forecast guidance from 48 to 60 hours in situations where there is high confidence.
Thursday, May 13 2021
Make sure your home is insured before hurricane season
Published:May 12, 2021 2:50 PM EDT
Updated:May 12, 2021 9:18 PM EDT
Insuring your home against a hurricane is more expensive than ever. We look into what you can do to make sure you have enough coverage for a worst-case scenario and save some money on your policy.
Summertime in Southwest Florida just isn’t the same for Hope Daley and her husband Matthew Dykes. Hurricane Irma changed everything, damaging their Naples home so much it had to be torn down.
“Hurricane season definitely raises our level of anxiety,” Daley said. “I grew up here and never worried about them, and it just takes one really bad one to kind of trash your life and turn everything upside down, and then you’re never the same.”
And the full payout of their insurance policy didn’t cover the cost to rebuild, so they had to start over.
“My advice, from having gone through it, is to absolutely… do not take any shortcuts on insurance, do not do it, it’s not worth it,” Daley said.
But homeowners take shortcuts to save money because policy renewals are at an all-time high.
“I heard the other day in a meeting that the average hurricane premium is headed towards $5,000,” said insurance agent Kagen Cookesly. “If we don’t make some meaningful change to help the industry, the rates are going to continue to climb.”
Cookesly says the rate increases are out-of-control for homeowners.
“At the end of the day, a lot of folks that had these increases, there’s not another market for them—they have to pay,” Cookesly said. “And some of them I’m even telling, ‘You’re lucky to get a policy right now.'”
While there’s not a magic bullet to significantly cut your insurance price, there are some simple things you can do around your home to help cut those costs and keep you safer during storm season. To qualify for discounts, you have to hire a licensed home inspector.
Home inspector Coty Lawrence walked Hope Daley and Matthew Dykes around their house and checked every opening from the garage door to the windows to see if they are impact-rated. Many of their windows are not impact-rated; if they don’t want to replace them, they can get shutters.
“If you don’t have hurricane shutters, you can call your insurance agent and say ‘How much is it going to save me to get hurricane shutters installed?'” Cookesly said. “If it’s a 2002 or newer home, you may already be getting the credit because of the year built. But if your home is built in 2001 or older, those discounts are a lot more meaningful than they were five, six years ago.”
And if you have an older home, you could get significant savings with a simple fix in your attic: Install a third nail into the hurricane clips on your roof trusses. And if you got your roof replaced recently, let your insurance company know.
“So if you have a roof that’s five years [old] or newer, you’re going to have a gamut of options,” Cookesly said.
More options make it easier to shop for a better rate and better coverage.
“Get every possible coverage you can and get as much as you can, because you don’t need it until you absolutely need it,” Daley said.
Monday, May 03 2021
Florida lawmakers passed two bills on the last day of their 2021 legislative session that make major changes to the state’s auto and property insurance markets.