Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Historic’ 2017 Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close, Virginia prepares for future storms

Hurricane Irma is currently southeast of Florida. The storm is predicted to push northwest over the coming days. (Courtesy of NASA)
The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season was one for the record books. (Courtesy of NASA)

Friday marked the end of one of the busiest hurricane seasons in history.

Just 11 months into 2017, the Atlantic hurricane season has already made the top 10 most-active seasons, according to Weather Underground.

While the season was one of the busiest on record, state officials are preparing for the next time a hurricane strikes the coastal regions of Virginia.

So far in 2017, there have been 17 named storms, putting the season in ninth place for the all-time most active season since 1851, according to Weather Underground.

Ten of the named storms were hurricanes, and six of the hurricanes were considered major hurricanes, according to a Virginia Department of Emergency Management news release.

“While the Commonwealth was fortunate this year to avoid any major tropical weather system devastation, as was seen in other parts of our great nation, it is only a matter of time until we find ourselves in the path of a major hurricane,” said Jeff Stern, state coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), in the release.

The six major hurricanes wreaked havoc across the Atlantic seaboard, causing 438 fatalities and $369.6 billion in damages, the release said.

The storms are part of the reason the VDEM is increasing its hurricane response plans, as well as assisting U.S. states and territories impacted by the storms in 2017, according to the release.

“Virginians must never let down our guard as we prepare for hurricane impacts here at home, and we must provide expertise, manpower and equipment downrange to those regions devastated by this year’s historic storm season,” Stern said in the release.

Tropical Storm Jose, which is forecast to return to Category 1 Hurricane status this weekend, reversed its path once again. The storm is slowly moving northwest but is not projected to make landfall in the Historic Triangle. (Courtesy NOAA National Hurricane Center)
(Courtesy NOAA National Hurricane Center)

Tiered hurricane evacuation plan in place

As the storms raged across the United States, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management prepared the commonwealth’s response program, the release said.

“This spring, Virginia enacted its largest step forward in hurricane preparedness and storm response planning in modern history,” the release states.

The department touts a more efficient tiered evacuation plan. The “Know Your Zone” plan is expected to help evacuees travel away from danger zones during a storm in the Tidewater area, according to the release.

“Know Your Zone” includes 23 localities in Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, and the Eastern Shore for a total population of about 1.25 million residents, the release said.

The “Know Your Zone” evacuation plans are available to the public at www.KnowYourZoneVA.org.

The plans are all in preparation for the next time a major weather event occurs in Tidewater, the release said.

Aid provided by Virginia in 2017 to hurricane-impacted states is a helping hand to those in need, and the commonwealth may never know when it might need a hand-up itself, according to Stern.

“When Virginia is impacted in the future, we will need other state’s help in the same way,” Stern said in the release.

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