The 2021 hurricane season is upon us, and all we can say is: batten down the hatches!
This year is going to be another wild ride, possibly worse than 2020, which already was a Top 5 worst ever year. In this post, we’ll compare last year to this year, offer hurricane safety tips and link you to hurricane tracking maps.
Last year was a doozie
The Atlantic saw 30 named storms and 13 hurricanes, double the long-term average. At least 430 deaths were directly attributed to the storms. Docked boats suffered $51 billion in damages from winds, storm surges and flooding. Iota, alone, blew sustained winds of 160 mph.
The Pacific hurricane season, too, was active, but mostly in the western Pacific. Waters along the U.S. west coast are too cool for damaging storms.
Here’s a map of what 2020 looked like in the Atlantic:
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season looks even more brutal
Experts predict another humdinger this year, for the sixth year in a row. Forecaster Xubin Zeng, from the University of Arizona, predicts 18 named storms. Forecasters use computer models that combine forecasts of sea surface temperature, wind, pressure, humidity and precipitation with the researchers’ understanding of hurricane formation and artificial intelligence.
The hurricanes bear down on the eastern U.S. like bowling balls. This 2020 graphic illustrates the “bowling alley” that spans the Atlantic.
Damage is extensive, on the water and off. Hurricanes crush and sink all sorts of watercraft, but the damage goes further and deeper. Debris or sea floor changes alter navigational channels. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 alone accounted for as many as 300 obstructions to navigation as charted by NOAA.
Taking steps to protect your boat this hurricane season
Hollywood loves to show intrepid sailors lashing themselves to the mast and staying with their craft during a hurricane. While this scene makes for a potential Academy Award nomination, in real life staying with your craft can be dangerous. The American Boating Association offers these tips for protecting you, your passengers and your watercraft going into hurricane season:
- Do not stay with your vessel. Get to a protected area or emergency shelter.
- Prepare hurricane moorings way in advance, in an inland area.
- Check the moorings. Make sure they will be able to maintain their hold in a strong wind.
- Remember, storm surge and associated tides can be 10 to 20 feet above normal. Prepare accordingly.
- Wind directions change constantly in a hurricane. Make sure your boat is secured from all points of the compass.
- Remove all items from the boat that could go airborne and become a missile. Lash down everything else.
- Seal all openings. Protect portholes and other window-like structures.
- When your local authorities issue a Warning, heed it and move your vessel to its hurricane mooring.
- Make sure your vessel is not blocking movement in the area in which it is moored. In other words, be courteous to other boaters.
- Remember chafing gear for your lines (however, make sure you get carried away with chafing gear, as winds and movement will be extreme, and you don’t want a line to be cut by a sharp edge).
Track the 2021 hurricanes
OceanGrafix offers three hurricane tracking charts that allow arm-chair storm chasers and nautical enthusiasts to track and record storm progress throughout the hurricane season.
Eastern Pacific, size 35” x 24”
Full Atlantic, size 35” x 26”
Western Atlantic, size 35” x 31”