2020 could see a busy hurricane season; why St. Louis should stay prepared


BALLWIN, Mo. – Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30.

For the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an above-normal season. St. Louis should be prepared.

“We do get effects of hurricanes and tropical systems in Missouri,” said Kevin Deitsch, warning coordination meteorologist. “Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike both hit us within about 10 days of each other.”

Gustav hit the bi-state region September 5, 2008, giving us river increases of three to five inches. The following week, Ike made its appearance, leading to significant flash flooding. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport saw three inches of rain in just three hours.

“Hurricanes are known for the way they produce rainfall,” Deitsch said. “They are very efficient at producing rain without lightning. We get these tropical downpours that drop a lot of rain.”

With two efficient rainmakers hitting St. Louis that year, the impact was huge. Two people lost their lives to flash flooding in University City.

Fast forward to today. Outlooks predict a busy 2020 hurricane season.

The United States has already seen its first named storm just weeks before the start of the season – Arthur.

The NOAA predicts between 13 and 19 named storms, compared to the annual average of 12. Forecasts show six to 10 of those intensifying to hurricanes and three to six of those storms becoming major hurricanes.

What’s difficult to predict: location.

“We can predict intensity to some extent,” Deitsch said. “That being said, we can’t really predict where they are going to hit.”

Regardless, those on the coast and inland should stay prepared. But with the COVID-19pandemic, preparations and response may be different for the 2020 season.

“That involves an all-hazards approach. So, we do have that in place because we have our own severe weather. We have tornadoes and floods so we are used to dealing with those,” said Ann Vastmans, an emergency management specialist with St. Louis County. “With the current situation with COVID, we would involve our partner at public health way more that way we can implement social distancing and so forth, plus sheltering would look a little different.”

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