Watching the Gulf for possible development this week as hurricane season begins today
It's June 1, the official start of hurricane season, and we're already watching a possible development in the southern Gulf that could impact the Gulf Coast later this week.
It's the beginning of what forecasters say is expected to be an above-average hurricane season.
"Right now the waters there are warm so that should favor lower pressure and a more unstable atmosphere that should cause weaker winds going into the tropical Atlantic,” said hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach with Colorado State University.
In fact, we've already had two named systems in the Atlantic basin: Arthur and Bertha. Both NOAA and Tom Konvicka say up to 20 named storms are possible this year. Emergency officials say now is the time to be prepared.
"Heed the warnings, follow the local warnings, follow the orders of the parish presidents and local leadership,” said Chris Guilbeaux with GOHSEP.
One aspect that could make this season challenging is handling the emergency response during a pandemic. FEMA has released a guidebook for emergency planners to help them manage both hurricane season and the virus.
"Typically in a hurricane, we would move people from their homes that are at risk of surge or wind or waves to a shelter, but now we have to take that into consideration," said FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor. "How much space do we need in a shelter? What are all the conditions that have to be there to make sure that we have social distancing, and good hygiene in shelters?"
Louisiana lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require FEMA to provide a 100 percent cost-share for all emergency or disaster declarations declared this year, to help any communities in Louisiana that may be impacted by this expected busy hurricane season.
"A third of the dollars bypasses the governor, bypasses the state legislature, goes straight to the small community for the parish or that small town to pull down the resources they need,” says Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy.
On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it has fully stocked distribution centers around the country with more emergency supplies than in any other year in history. The White House said it also increased urban search and rescue capabilities and staffing in 22 states.