The 2018 hurricane season taught us some important lessons—so let’s not forget them

Popular Science | 9/10/2018 | Staff
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Too often, the public forgets a harrowing hurricane season until the next is rattling our shutters. We learned quite a few lessons during the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, and hopefully, we can use this year as a guide to get ready for storms in the future.

Weather forecasts usually fall back on memorable clichés to drive home a point. “Turn around, don’t drown” is probably the most famous—meteorologists use it almost reflexively when flooding is in the forecast. Another is “it only takes one,” and we sure learned that this year.

Atlantic - Hurricane - Season - Average - Florence

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season saw 15 named storms—the average is 12—but can you name more than Hurricanes Florence and Michael? This was a year that consisted of quick, relatively weak storms forming out at sea, where nobody but sailors and weather observers paid them any mind.

However, Florence and Michael slipped through the cracks to become two of the worst storms to hit the United States in modern history. Florence generated historic flooding in the Carolinas while Michael hit land as one of the strongest storms to make landfall in the U.S. since modern recordkeeping began.

Hurricane - Forecast - Warning - Storm - Hurricane

Just about every seasonal hurricane forecast ends with the warning that it only takes one storm to break through even in an otherwise-underwhelming hurricane season. 2018 sure drove that point home.

One of the biggest lessons we learn in grade school is that history repeats itself. The same is usually true for meteorology. You can get a decent idea of what’s going to happen based on what’s happened before. If a hurricane tracks across a certain part of the ocean during a certain time of the year, you can use past hurricane tracks to get a rough idea of where the storm will wind up.

Storms - Hurricane - Florence - Climatology - Odd

But storms can surprise us. Hurricane Florence defied climatology and followed an odd...
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