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Guard May Face 'Hyperactive' 2024 Hurricane Season

06-04-24 WR Hurricanes WEBSITE
06-04-24 WR Hurricanes WEBSITE
Washington Report

The National Guard may face a "hyperactive" hurricane season this year, according to a May 23 forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA released its seasonal hurricane outlook for the Atlantic basin last month, predicting an 85% chance that this year’s hurricane season will be above average.

It is the agency’s most aggressive prediction for a hurricane season on record. Officials based the forecast on warm waters and a diminishing El Niño.

NOAA predicts 17 to 25 named storms will form in the Atlantic between June 1 and the end of November. At least eight named storms are expected to become full-blown hurricanes.

And four to seven of these storms are expected to become major hurricanes, with winds powerful enough to uproot trees, down powerlines and damage buildings.

Hurricane Ian in 2022 may be the last example of a major hurricane. It killed 156 people and caused $112.9 billion in damage, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Guardsmen from 11 states assisted with recovery efforts related to Ian. According to NOAA, Idalia was the only landfalling hurricane in the United States in 2023.

The Guard is now ready to help communities nationwide respond to hurricanes and other disasters, three of the service’s top officials said during a May 28 media roundtable.

"And, you know, to my years of doing this, that’s the special sauce that I think really brings the National Guard to the fore in these responses," Col. Larry Doane, the National Guard Bureau’s J3 current operations division chief, said of the Guard’s "locally led, locally driven" disaster response operations.

"And [it is] the thing that our citizens really come to rely upon on their toughest days," he added.

Col. Blake Heidelberg, the Florida Guard’s J3 director of Military Support, also joined last week’s media roundtable.

Heidelberg said that hurricanes annually concern Florida, so resilience and readiness anchor the state’s disaster preparations each year.

The Florida Guard devotes one drill every year to the state’s hurricane response and domestic operations training, he continued.

The Sunshine State’s annual hurricane preparations also feature the Florida Guard coordinating with national, state and county authorities, Heidelberg added.

"So, we look at it and we plan, and we assign specific tasks to units, because we know that hurricanes are not only our most likely course of action, but they’re also our most dangerous course of action," he said.

"And we have a saying in Florida that you’re either in hurricane season, or you’re preparing for hurricane season," Heidelberg noted.

Heidelberg added much of the national support during Florida’s annual hurricane season comes from the All-Hazards Conference.

The conference is a comprehensive event designed to address various disaster preparedness and emergency management subjects.

The Guard responded to six hurricane-type storms in 2023 across 13 states and territories nationwide, according to NGB.

— By Mark Hensch