Expert Pitch

Experts: Prepare for Active 2020 Hurricane Season Amid COVID-19

University at Albany, State University of New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 4, 2020) – While emergency responders are continuing to focus on the COVID-19 crisis, another threat is looming – a potentially very active and destructive Atlantic hurricane season.

Already, Hanna, the first named hurricane of the 2020 season, unleashed wind gusts over 100 mph in South Texas late last month. A second hurricane, Isaias, is marching up the East Coast this week. NOAA’s 2020 forecast is calling for a total range of 13 to 19 named storms this season. An average season sees around 11 named storms.

Experts at the University at Albany are available to offer insight on 2020 hurricane season predictions and how to prepare in the midst of a pandemic:

Kristen Corbosiero, associate professor and graduate program director, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

“The 2020 Atlantic basin hurricane season is the first on record in which nine tropical systems have formed before Aug. 1. The key ingredients that fuel hurricanes, warm sea surface temperatures, high humidity and weak winds aloft, are predicted to remain favorable throughout the season. As tropical cyclones bring weather hazards such as storm surge, strong winds, flooding rains and tornadoes, both at the coast and hundreds of miles inland, continued vigilance and accurate forecasts will be key during the ongoing global pandemic."

Shao Lin, professor and graduate director, Department of Environmental Health Sciences

“We would expect to see corresponding increases in multiple diseases after these storms and consequent power outages. According to our prior studies, we found that cardio-respiratory diseases, injuries and mental health hospital admissions significantly increased after Hurricane Sandy, related power outages and other natural disasters. The health impacts, especially on mental health, lasted from three months to one year after the disaster. We also found that effective response efforts coordinated by different levels of governmental agencies could reduce the health burden."

Amber Silver, assistant professor, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity

“People don’t make decisions in a vacuum. In a public health hazard, such as the coronavirus, recommended protective actions include social distancing, frequent hand washing and self-isolation. However, these actions are made difficult or impossible during widespread, rapid onset disasters, such as hurricanes. When two disasters with contrasting public health recommendations occur simultaneously, it can greatly complicate the ways that we respond.”    

Brian Tang, associate professor, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

“Preparing for and responding to hurricane hazards (storm surge, high winds and flooding rains) during the pandemic will present unique challenges. As we enter the peak months of the Atlantic hurricane season, which has already set a record for the most number of named storms through July, it will be critical to understand and anticipate the combination of risks from both the ongoing pandemic and threatening hurricanes.”

Ryan Torn, department chair, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

“The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season has already been active and promises to remain so into August and September, which are traditionally the most active part of the season.  Similar to last year, UAlbany scientists will be providing support to the National Hurricane Center to identify locations where additional observations would reduce the uncertainty in track forecasts.”


About the University at Albany:

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than  120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs.  UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business,  public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and  sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.



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