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2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season

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The 2024 Atlantic Hurricane season is predicted to be well above-normal, according to all climate forecasters.

Every year several forecasters release predictions, and like spaghetti models during a hurricane, they tend to vary. This year there is not a lot of variation and there are high levels of confidence in the models. Everyone is predicting a strong, above-normal, La Niña-influenced season. The waters from the coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico are more than unseasonably warm: they have never been this hot.

The federal forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are  “forecasting a range of 17 to 25 total named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, 8 to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 4 to 7 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). Forecasters have a 70% confidence in these ranges.” This is a higher level of confidence than is typical.

Arizona State University’s forecast calls for 21 named storms of which 11 will be hurricanes, including five major hurricanes. Colorado State University (CSU)’s forecast is almost identical with 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes and five major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Risk’s (TSR) forecast is 24 named storms, 12 hurricanes and six major hurricanes. The Weather Company (aka Weather Channel) and Atmospheric G2 forecast 24 named storms, including 11 hurricanes and six major storms.

When storms occur, they will be listed in reverse chronological order in this profile, except for the most damaging storms which will be listed first.

(Photo: Hurricane Ida over the Gulf of Mexico approaching Louisiana. (Source: GOES-East NOAA)

Hurricane season predictions and reports can be confusing because most reports include the total number of named storms, a total number of minor hurricanes and a total number of major hurricanes. These numbers can be misleading as tropical storms and hurricanes are both considered to be “named storms” and are included in the total figure for named storms while also being reported separately.

Tropical depressions with winds up to 38 mph, however, are not named and are not included in seasonal storm totals. A tropical depression whose wind speed reaches 39 mph is given a name and reclassified as a tropical storm. Similarly, a tropical storm whose winds exceed 74 mph is reclassified as a hurricane.

For example, if a season has 20 named storms, the total number of hurricanes and tropical storms are included in the total number of named storms (e.g., 4 minor hurricanes + 5 major hurricanes + 11 tropical storms = 20 named storms).

Key facts
  • About 90% of global warming is occurring in the world’s oceans and warm water is a significant factor in the development of tropical systems. March 14, 2023, to March 14, 2024, marked 366 consecutive days in which global ocean surface temperatures were the warmest on record.
  • The average hurricane season (based on data from 1991-2020) has 14 named systems, with seven hurricanes, three of which are major hurricanes. The 30-year average is recalculated every 10 years. This was last done in 2021 and saw a 12-19% increase compared to 1981-2010, when it stood at 11 named systems, with six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
  • The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. Since 2015, only 2022 and this year didn’t have a pre-season tropical system. The earliest in 2022 was June 5.
  • The World Meteorological Committee (WMO) creates lists of possible storm names by committee and they repeat every six years. If there is a very destructive (deaths or cost) hurricane or storm, the name can be retired if requested by the Member State and agreed by the WMO. We may need to use a second list of names in 2024 given the high number of forecast storms. Since 2021, an alternate list of names is available for when this happens.
Why are the predictions so high?

The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have above-normal activity due to a confluence of factors, including near-record warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, development of La Niña conditions in the Pacific, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear, all of which tend to favor tropical storm formation.

Source: SeaTemperature.org as of May 24, 2024

Since spring 2023, the tropical Pacific has experienced El Niño conditions – the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) – which typically suppress Atlantic hurricane activity. El Niño is predicted to weaken to neutral levels by June 2024, indicating a likelihood of above-average activity for the 2024 season.

Will there be a lot of damage?

A high storm forecast does not always translate to a lot of damage. Years with similar conditions can have different results. In 1998, there were 14 named systems, some very destructive, while 2010 saw more systems (19 named storms) with most storms recurving into the Atlantic open waters as “fish storms.” This means that human and financial cost varies, even if the number of storms is the same, or even greater.

Overall, it is important to remember that any storm that makes landfall can cause significant damage, regardless of its strength. Hurricane Florence in 2018 was only a Category 1 hurricane at landfall but caused significant flooding across both of the Carolinas. According to NOAA, North Carolina had $16.7 billion in damages with approximately 74,563 structures damaged or destroyed due to flooding. With an additional $607 million worth of damage, including 11,386 homes with moderate or major damage, in South Carolina.

While there are many immediate needs in the wake of hurricanes, funders should consider designating funds for anticipated intermediate and long-term needs of the affected communities.

Immediate needs

After a hurricane, needs will depend on the type and amount of damage. Immediate needs may include cleaning up and temporary repair of damaged homes and businesses. In communities, this includes debris clean-up and waste management (which also continue into long-term recovery). There will be a need to replace vehicles, personal belongings, appliances and furniture lost in the hurricane.

Cash assistance

A critical ongoing need will be unrestricted cash donations to support affected individuals and families. Direct cash assistance can allow families to secure housing, purchase items and contract services locally that address their multiple needs. It gives each family flexibility and choice, ensuring that support is relevant, cost-effective and timely. Cash assistance can also help move families faster toward rebuilding their lives. Cash also provides a much-needed jolt to local economies, which can also be a major boon to recovery.

 

Housing

People whose homes were damaged will need support securing new or temporary housing that is safe and affordable and/or repairing their damaged homes. After a hurricane, displaced residents may face challenges finding housing that meets their needs and is affordable.

In many parts of the country, demand for housing outpaces supply, complicating recovery efforts. Affected people living in rural areas or public housing and people from marginalized groups will require assistance identifying and securing housing. The ability to rebuild in rural communities is also challenging due to reduced economies of scale and the cost of transporting goods.

Affordability

The United States is facing a critical housing shortage of more than 7 million affordable homes for the nation’s more than 10.8 million extremely low-income families. Many people in the U.S. regularly struggle to find safe and affordable housing; add a major disaster into the equation and it becomes even more difficult to find affordable housing, especially for low and middle-income residents and/or retirees on fixed incomes.

For example, in 2021, Hurricane Ida exacerbated an affordable housing crisis in New Orleans as housing supply post-disaster was low, but demand was high. This was also true after Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico and Hurricanes Ian and Nicole in Florida in 2022. This limited the ability of renters and people living in poverty to find housing. All were already experiencing a housing crunch before the hurricanes, which has made recovery harder for people already struggling to make ends meet.

Manufactured housing

The housing affordability crisis is worse for people who live in manufactured (also called mobile) homes. While physically vulnerable to hurricanes, before a disaster, manufactured housing represents a very affordable and accessible housing option. While 71% of mobile homes are owner-occupied, depending upon the location of housing, a homeowner may only own the building, not the land. Additionally, insurance is limited based on the age of the building.

After 1992’s Hurricane Andrew devastated mobile homes, the government implemented revised standards that increased safety and improved the homes’ ability to withstand hurricane-force winds. In Punta Gorda, Florida, 99% of homes made it through Hurricane Ian in 2022 with minimal damage because they were rebuilt to the new standards after 2004’s Hurricane Charley.

CDP hosted a webinar about the increased risks manufactured homes face and their role in disaster recovery. Additionally, the Manufactured Home Disaster Recovery Playbook, created by Matthew 25 in 2023 for CDP, has videos, lessons learned and other information to assist funders in supporting manufactured home disaster recovery.

Insurance

After a hurricane, even those with insurance may not be covered depending on the damage and type of insurance. Hurricanes often cause flash flooding, but people with flood damage need to have a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Numerous companies have withdrawn from the home insurance market in states across the country, including Louisiana and Florida. Finding insurance is increasingly difficult and more expensive.

CDP is hosting a webinar on June 13 about the impact of disasters on insurance coverage.

Rural communities

Rural communities do not always have access to robust social service support, particularly disaster recovery assistance support. As a result, many rural families are more vulnerable to the impact of disasters, especially those that do not garner much media attention.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 50% of all manufactured homes are located in rural areas around the U.S.

Recovery in rural communities is slower and requires “patient dollars.” Funders must understand that progress will not occur as quickly as it does in larger, more well-resourced communities. Investments should be made over time: Pledges of multi-year funding are very helpful, as is support for operating costs and capacity building.

Funders would, however, be wise to remember that while many rural communities do not have access to the same level of financial assistance as some urban areas, the social fabric and human capital available in rural communities can be a powerful force multiplier.

Disaster case management

In most situations, disaster recovery navigation services – also called disaster case management – can be a valuable and hugely impactful resource in expediting the recovery process, especially if governmental disaster assistance is available. Disaster case managers can provide essential support and guidance in accessing resources and navigating the road to recovery.

In some disasters, case management is provided with funds from the federal and/or state government, but the timing does not always align with the needs of the community. Funders can fill the gap from the time immediately after a disaster until a government-funded case management program starts. CDP has a disaster case management toolkit that can be helpful for communities and funders looking to create local case management programs.

Power issues

Power outages are usually a significant issue in hurricanes. They cause concerns related to food preparation and preservation, lighting, personal hygiene, and maintaining temperature control.

Eight hurricane-related deaths after Hurricane Laura in 2020 were related to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper generator use – more than all other hazards (drowning, storm clean-up and falling trees) combined. Funders can help in advance by supporting generator-use education and carbon monoxide detectors.

The lack of electricity can also expose people to extreme heat, as hurricanes often occur during some of the hottest months of the year. If power is on in some areas but not others, funders can support cooling centers, including transportation to bring people to them.

Education and children

After a hurricane with significant damage, schools may be closed for a few weeks to help with recovery. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when students need the social support of their friends and teachers, especially as their families may be busy with their recovery activities.

Child care and child support programs are particularly helpful during this time and can reduce the need for child trauma counseling in later months. Funder investment in these programs has long-term benefits for children and their families.

Health care

There are often immediate health needs after hurricanes related to injuries that arise as people are hit by falling debris, spend time in flood water or lose access to services because of damage to health centers and hospitals.

Roads may be blocked by debris or flooding, preventing health care workers from reaching their jobs or patients from reaching their providers.

It is important to think about more than hurricane-related injuries. Some people may need access to medical care to address acute or chronic, pre-existing health issues. Surgeries or treatments such as dialysis may be delayed, further worsening conditions. Research shows that hurricanes cause and exacerbate multiple diseases. While many health impacts peak within six months following hurricanes, chronic diseases continue to occur for years.

Funders can help rebuild medical facilities, including equipment, or support temporary staff who can help meet the increased needs of the community.

Emotional and spiritual care

Hurricanes also inflict harm to the mental health of people in their paths. According to research from Vibrant Emotional Health, the repeated stress of chronic cyclical disasters causes trauma in ways that are not fully understood. This research is key to helping mental health professionals fully understand the needs of survivors.

Emotional and spiritual care will be critical, especially for families of people killed in the storms, first responders and those in the direct path of the storm or its impacts. Long-term mental health and trauma support will also be required. Some of the affected communities may have been impacted by previous events, which has left them with increased trauma from natural hazards.

There is also a severe risk of poor emotional health, suicide or self-harming behaviors among people with pre-existing mental health issues. Farmers or ranchers also have unique needs that require support after disasters. The loss of generational family property is often devastating. CDP’s Early Recovery Fund made a video to help funders understand this issue.

Supporting locally-based and culturally-competent mental health resources is an excellent way for funders to build individual and community resiliency and support mental health. Donors should look into long-term investment in mental health support. Government-funded or NGO-led emotional and spiritual care programs tend to be short-term, but research has shown that long-term support is required.

Funders could ensure that therapy programs are offered for all ages, are conducted in community settings and exhibit high levels of cultural competency to meet the diverse needs of clients, by providing funds for local organizations embedded in hyper-local networks and communities.

Navigating the disaster assistance process

Disaster assistance may be available in various forms and from different sources. People will need help navigating the assistance process, particularly undocumented people and people whose first language is not English. Government assistance is vital but can also be cumbersome and confusing for households and communities.

For example, Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans are part of the federal sequence of assistance for FEMA’s Individual and Households Program (IHP). Many people may not understand that the loans, though they originate from the SBA, can be made to individuals/families.

Furthermore, a recently released study from the U.S. Commission on Human Rights found that FEMA did not equitably serve at-risk populations, including people with disabilities, people living in poverty and English as a second language speakers, during Hurricanes Harvey or Maria in 2017. FEMA recently set equity as a strategic priority to help itself reset and do better in this area. Recent changes to the Individual Assistance program are a step in the right direction to getting more support into the hands of people who need it the most.

Funders can support organizations that work to help people complete their submissions and file appeals. For example, CDP grantee SBP USA provides support for FEMA appeals. This includes online resources and videos for survivors, as well as training for NGO staff and in-person support when needed. Supporting programs such as this is a great investment for donors.

Critical infrastructure issues

Critical infrastructure includes transportation (roads, bridges, rail, etc.), health care facilities, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), government operations, finance, communication technology, shelter and food. All of these areas are important to the immediate activities that occur after a disaster, as well as long-term recovery.

Infrastructure spending is always an important area and challenge for communities. While the federal government provides support in recovery for U.S.-based disasters, there is usually still a 25% cost-share for public assistance funding to assist with infrastructure repair that some local governments may have issues affording. Funders could pay the 25% for small communities or support the back-end and technical assistance needs of applying for a government grant.

When communities do receive governmental disaster assistance, federal funding is not always the most flexible or dynamic in meeting complex human needs. Philanthropy is uniquely situated to support people and local communities in developing the capacity to become more resilient in the face of increasingly severe disasters.

Philanthropy can also help by supporting infrastructure and human-based needs. For example, funders could provide support for communities to purchase equipment, buildings, vehicles or training for first responders. Funders could also provide direct assistance for local disaster coordination and recovery navigation, housing assistance, and other community-specific recovery needs.

Some have commercial connections and require the support of corporations to restore full functioning. Others, such as transportation or WASH, have short-term fixes through a city government’s public works department but then require significant state or federal investment to rebuild properly. While rebuilding the infrastructure is usually a government responsibility, smaller communities may not have the resources to provide their cost-share or to support writing state or federal grant applications. This is an area funders can support by providing resources for grant writing or a low-interest loan for the cost-share.

Business recovery

Business recovery is always critical to helping communities rebuild. When storms damage or destroy businesses, they negatively impact people’s livelihoods. Given the higher costs of living and the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is particularly challenging for small businesses.

Funders can support small businesses with grants and loans. Some businesses may need help meeting their deductible. Others may want to take the opportunity to improve their building to prevent damage in future storms. Loans with minimal interest could be an opportunity for funders to support the enhancement or expansion of a small business.

FEMA’s new Individual Assistance program now supports self-employed individuals with recovery from disasters, but there are always people who will not get the assistance they need. This is another opportunity for funders to use the flexibility of their funding to address gaps.

The CDP Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund is a perpetual fund, allowing CDP the most flexibility to respond to philanthropic and humanitarian needs as they arise. You can donate to the fund to support hurricane recovery.

Support recovery now

Contact CDP

Philanthropic contributions

If you have questions about donating to the CDP Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund, need help with your disaster-giving strategy or want to share how you’re responding to this disaster, please contact development.

(Photo: Hurricane Ida approaching New Orleans on August 29, 2021. Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash)

Recovery updates

If you are a responding NGO or a donor, please send updates on how you are working on recovery from this disaster to Tanya Gulliver-Garcia.

We welcome the republication of our content. Please credit the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Philanthropic and government support

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund is a permanent fund that focuses on the full spectrum of the disaster cycle. The following are examples of grants awarded through this fund:

  • $57,500 to VIA LINK to replicate and improve upon their Hurricane Ida data tool dashboard for the Florida Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, Florida’s 211 network, to support social services agencies and other community resources in effecting equitable recoveries from Hurricanes Ian and Idalia across Florida.
  • $188,378 to Guakia Ambiente to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona and enhance water security and resilience through the use of photovoltaic solar energy to power water pumping stations in El Seibo province, Dominican Republic. The project adopts a build back better approach and focuses on resilience, community-centered design and implementation, and capacity strengthening.
  • $500,000 to SBP USA and its partners to help return at least 22 vulnerable, Hurricane Ian-impacted families to the safety and security of their homes. SBP’s long-term recovery work not only lays the groundwork for continued recovery efforts throughout the region but will also position local nonprofits to leverage additional resources to drive community resilience initiatives for years to come. To learn more about SBP’s work, see an impact story from a 2021 grant following Hurricane Laura in Southwest Louisiana.
  • $100,000 to Grand Bahama Resilience Center to scale up mental health support and community cohesion programs, creating a holistic approach to long-term recovery that addresses the interconnected challenges of resilience. By prioritizing mental well-being and adopting adaptive strategies, it aimed to build a resilient community capable of buffering the impacts of climate change and fostering enduring recovery.
  • $250,000 to Fundación de Mujeres en Puerto Rico to support the grass-roots, women-led organizations that possess the deepest expertise regarding what disaster-recovery assistance is needed in Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable communities – and that are invariably the first boots-on-the-ground offering that assistance. The grant provides the holistic operational, strategic and emergency resources that organizations need to continue carrying out their life-saving work with maximum effectiveness.

Resources

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Hurricanes, Typhoons and Cyclones

Hurricanes, Typhoons and Cyclones

Hurricanes, also called typhoons or cyclones, bring a triple threat: high winds, floods and possible tornadoes. But there’s another “triple” in play: they’re getting stronger, affecting larger stretches of coastline and more Americans are moving into hurricane-prone areas.

Tornadoes

Tornadoes

The National Weather Service defines tornadoes as “a violently rotating column of air touching the ground, usually attached to the base of a thunderstorm.” The U.S. is home to more tornadoes than any other country in the world, with approximately 900 to 1,700 tornadoes occurring a year throughout the country.

Floods

Floods

Flooding is our nation’s most common natural disaster. Regardless of whether a lake, river or ocean is actually in view, everyone is at some risk of flooding. Flash floods, tropical storms, increased urbanization and the failing of infrastructure such as dams and levees all play a part — and cause millions (sometimes billions) of dollars in damage across the U.S. each year.