May 24, 2022
NOAA releases 2022 Atlantic hurricane season forecast 5/24/22 Transcript
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced its official initial outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season on 5/24/22. Read the transcript here.
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… will be available shortly on noaa.gov. The beginning of today’s media briefing will consist of about 20 minutes of remarks from our experts, and then we will take questions from reporters in the room. For those of you who are joining us by webinar, you will have the opportunity to ask written questions using the questions box to the right of your screen. I will read them aloud for one of our experts to answer. Please be sure to include your full name and your media affiliation when asking your question. Our speakers today are NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Emergency Management First Deputy Commissioner Christina Farrell and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. And now we will begin with remarks from Dr. Spinrad.
Dr. Spinrad: (01:05)
Thank you, Jasmine. Good morning everyone. First, I want to make sure and thank everyone for joining us today for the announcement of NOAA’s 2022 Atlantic hurricane season outlook. It really is a pleasure to be with you today. Mayor Adams, First Deputy Commissioner Farrell and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, with whom we’ve developed an extraordinarily effective working relationship, thank you for that. And I’ve got to say hello to Commissioner Bray, my old friend as well. Hello, Jackie. Particular thanks to the New York City Department of Emergency Management for hosting us here at this site today.
Dr. Spinrad: (01:45)
Let me take just a moment and set the stage, if I can. We just experienced two extremely active hurricane seasons marking the first time on record that two consecutive hurricane seasons exhausted the list of 21 storm names. If you go back two years, the 2020 hurricane season broke records across the board, and it’s the most active season on record with 30 named storms. The 2021 hurricane season, which is the third most active year on record in terms of names of storms, brought us 21 named storms with impacts raging from the Appalachian mountains all the way to New England, resulting in over $78.5 billion in US damage.
Dr. Spinrad: (02:36)
One of those storms, Hurricane Ida of course, made a huge impact right here in New York City. Hundreds of miles north from where it made landfall, a still powerful Hurricane Ida brought astounding record-breaking rainfall amounts, up to nine or more inches, in an extremely short amount of time to much of the tri-state area. Despite early and dire warnings from the National Weather Service, stellar preparation by our partners, the severe flooding resulted in 27 direct drowning deaths, and many of which took place in historically underserved communities. Hurricane Ida emphasized the vulnerability and consequences that tropical cyclones can bring to our coastal and inland areas.
Dr. Spinrad: (03:25)
But we are encouraged by the continued coordinated efforts of federal, regional, state, city and local partners to rescue, recover and rebuild after these events, and as equally important, develop hazardous weather planning and mitigation efforts ahead of the next, which will ultimately lead to a more weather and climate-ready nation.
Dr. Spinrad: (03:51)
And a decade before Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Sandy brought a devastating five-to-eight-foot storm surge to this region, brought tropical storm force winds, which damaged hundreds of thousands of homes, caused tree and power line damage that resulted in some residents going without power for one to two weeks, resulted in at least 65 fatalities in the tri-state area. On a personal note, I’m a New York City boy myself, and that storm resulted in the permanent displacement of my then 95-year-old mom from her apartment in Manhattan, and incidentally, resulted in more than $80 billion in damages.
Dr. Spinrad: (04:34)
And of course that storm wasn’t unique. Other notable storms that have impacted the tri-state area included Gloria in 1985, Hurricane Donna in 1960 and Hurricane Carroll in 1954. These storms have taught us many lessons. One of the most important is that it’s never too early to prepare for the devastating impacts of hurricanes. And while we’re here today to preview an outlook of what trends will shape this year’s hurricane season, it’s crucial to remember that it only takes one storm to damage your home, neighborhood and community. Preparedness is key to the resilience that we need, and now is the time to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season.
Dr. Spinrad: (05:19)
So now let’s talk about the upcoming hurricane season. NOAA is predicting an above normal 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which would make this year the seventh consecutive above normal season. Specifically, there’s a 65% chance of an above normal season, a 25% chance of a near normal season and just a 10% chance of a below normal season. For the range of storms expected, NOAA calls for a 70% probability of the following ranges. 14 to 21 named storms with top winds of at least 39 miles per hour. Of these six to 10 will become hurricanes with top winds of at least 74 miles per hour. And of these three to six major hurricanes ranked as categories three, four or five with top winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
Dr. Spinrad: (06:20)
Let me say a word about the accuracy of the forecasting and how NOAA’s forecasts have improved in recent years to better predict the storms and protect life and property throughout the hurricane season. Since the year 2000, we’ve seen a 57% improvement in the average 72-hour National Hurricane Center track error in the Atlantic basin. This can be attributed in part to NOAA’s flagship weather model, the Global Forecast System, incorporating things like dropsonde and hurricane hunter flight data into its analysis. Our improved track forecast has allowed us to more accurately pinpoint the area most at risk, which reduces the size of areas that may need to evacuate when a hurricane threatens. This improvement is illustrated in the National Hurricane Center’s Track Forecast Cone, also known as the cone of uncertainty, which represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone up to five days out. The cone of uncertainty has gotten significantly smaller since 2005.
Dr. Spinrad: (07:28)
We’ve also seen improvements in our intensity forecast. Forecasters can now more accurately predict changes to hurricane intensity early in a storm’s lifecycle. The National Hurricane Center’s average intensity error is now 40% lower than it was in 2000.
Dr. Spinrad: (07:47)
Looking ahead, NOAA will triple our operational super computing capacity for weather and climate this summer. This upgrade will allow for more detailed, higher-resolution Earth models that can handle larger ensembles of models, meaning more numerous calculations, more advanced physical considerations, and improve capability to assimilate the data collected out in the storm. Along with the better science, we’ll ultimately make way for better hurricane forecast model guidance for years to come, which is what the forecasters, of course, rely on.
Dr. Spinrad: (08:24)
So before I close, I’d like to take a moment to give a special thanks to the skilled and dedicated forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami who work around the clock to deliver timely and accurate forecasts each and every hurricane season. Better systems, better sensors, better satellites, better aircraft, of course, are critical. It really boils down to the people who make the forecasts. As well as the hurricane hunters, both ours and those of the US Air Force Reserve out of Keesler Air Force Base, who fly hundreds of hours, each hurricane season to support critical hurricane forecasting and research, and the numerous members of the emergency management community who are so critical to protecting lives and property. And last but not least, the forecasters at the National Weather Service forecast offices around the country who work year-round to provide weather forecasts, watches, and warnings that the entire nation can depend on.
Dr. Spinrad: (09:24)
I also want to call out the experts at the Climate Prediction Center who develop the seasonal outlooks, run the models, assimilate the data, including the hurricane seasonal outlook, which are used as a tool by decision makers and planners and emergency managers and the public when planning for the season ahead. So with that, I conclude my remarks. It is my pleasure now to turn it over to mayor Adams. Mr. Mayor?
Mayor Adams: (09:57)
Remember the good old days when you’re lucky if you have one camera to hear this forecast? Now we are glued to the TV. We’re worried about hurricane seasons because now the hurricane seasons, they have taken an entirely new meaning. And we are concerned about not only the damage to property but also lives lost. We have to refocus to this new reality of dealing with the change in our environment and how it impacts us every day.
Mayor Adams: (10:32)
And let’s be clear, this information is vital and it’s crucial. It’s crucial for the men and women who are assigned here, both the commission and the deputy commission and this entire team, because it allowed us to be prepared. And we cannot thank our federal partners enough for giving this information in a timely fashion, using technology to predict what is about to happen and how the inclement weather could impact our daily lives and responding to emergencies.
Mayor Adams: (11:01)
And this is not new to New York. We know 10 years ago, Hurricane Sandy hit our city. We remember the catastrophic flooding that submerged our city. 44 New Yorkers died during that storm. As a state senator, moving throughout the entire area, we saw how it impacted us.
Mayor Adams: (11:24)
And just last year, the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused torrential rains and flash flooding that killed 13 New Yorkers in basement apartments. I remember being out that night, moving around the borough and city and saw the Brooklyn Bridge flood for the first time in my entire life, and that sent its clear message.
Mayor Adams: (11:51)
So when it comes to coastal storms, hurricanes and floods, preparation is everything. And today, this announcement is allowing all of our agencies and New Yorkers to be prepared. That’s why we are here today with partners from NOAA, FEMA and the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. It’s going to take real partnership for us to combat these unprecedented levels of storms that we are seeing in our city and in our entire country.
Mayor Adams: (12:26)
And I want every New Yorker to be ready because once we are giving the information, once the agencies are in place, it’s going to come down to New Yorkers also participating in this partnership. New York has six evacuation zone areas that may have to be evacuated in case of severe flood issues. Zone One includes those communities most at risk, especially low-lying coastal areas and waterfront communities. And Zone Six is a lower area, a lower risk. But knowing your zone could have you-
Mayor Adams: (13:03)
… Lower area, a lower risk, but knowing your zone could have you prepared when the information is put out and every New Yorker should know their zone. I know my zone, City Hall, is Zone Six and Gracie Mansion is not zone. And we are going to do our part to make sure that every New Yorker is using a mapping system, will know exactly where their zones are located. Second thing that’s important is preparation. Proper planning shared with friends and families, have food, have supplies, have go bags. And particularly if your loved one may need some form of medicine, you should be prepared to have it in a go bag or ready to put in a bag. Listen to the warnings and make sure you let your neighbors know exactly if they are not aware of the urgency of a particular storm.
Mayor Adams: (13:55)
And know your neighbors. This is a moment where we should know each other, particularly those who are elders or shut in. We should make sure that we check on them and have a line of communication. We can do it block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, partnering with our community boards, our faith-based institutions. We’re going to do a briefing with all of our faith-based leaders as we move into this season to ensure that they’re part of the deployment plan. New York City, we know we have the best emergency management team anywhere. In fact, they leave here and they move to other levels of FEMA. Commissioner Criswell came straight from her role as the commissioner of New York City Emergency Management Office.
Mayor Adams: (14:37)
We have the best and they move to higher levels in their profession. And our New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Commissioner Bray, came from New York City’s emergency management background as well. We continue to move through the system and help the entire country, if not the entire state. With the leadership and the help we together can ensure that we save the lives of New Yorkers and be prepared. We must be smart, we must be safe and we must be prepared. And no matter what happens, FEMA, Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Management, we have the backs of New Yorkers and the state. And so I want you now turn it over to our Deputy Commissioner here, Commissioner Farrell. Commissioner.
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (15:36)
Good morning. I want to welcome everyone here to New York City Emergency Management and to the city’s emergency operation center. Even though it’s very full. I think we prefer it here with press then filled after a storm. I want to thank all our partners, including Dr. Spinrad from NOAA, Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator and our former commissioner, welcome back, Jackie Bray, the Commissioner of New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Joanne Ariola who’s the Chairperson of the New York City Council Committee on Fire and Emergency Management, and of course, Mayor Adams. I also want to welcome a very special person who’s with us today, Fahman Ahmed. He’s a ninth grader at Nest High School in Lower Manhattan. He’s our commissioner for the day. He won an essay contest from Essays Across the City, and he is the future of emergency management. So we were very happy he would take a day off from school and join us.
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (16:28)
As emergency managers, we know that preparedness will save lives. Through our work we make sure we help all communities safely and equitably to prepare for and recover from hurricanes. As has been said, we see that one storm can have a devastating impact on New Yorkers and their communities. We know hurricanes won’t wait and neither should you. With the start of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, just days away, you can be prepared and we encourage you all to take the first step. And as the mayor said, please Know Your Zone.
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (17:03)
If you live in one of the six evacuation zones, you may be ordered to evacuate for your own safety by emergency management and by the mayor if a dangerous storm is approaching, if order to evacuate, it is vital that New Yorkers follow city officials guidance. It’s very easy to find out what zone you live in. You can visit nyc.gov/knowyourzone, or you can call 311. More than three million New Yorkers live in the city’s six hurricane evacuation zones to. Encourage New Yorkers to know their zone and prepare for hurricane season, we are once again running our Know Your Zone awareness campaign.
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (17:39)
Starting next week, New Yorkers will see new know year zone ads on bus shelters, bike pumps, storefronts, online in newspapers, and other places again across the city. But even for New Yorkers who don’t live in hurricane evacuation zones, extreme weather as we have seen can impact. Make sure that you stay informed with emergency information during hurricane season and throughout the year. The best way to do that in New York City is to sign up to receive emergency updates from Notify NYC, the city’s free emergency alert program. It’s available in 14 languages, including American Sign Language. So please visit nyc.gov/knowyourzone for more information including how to sign up for Notify NYC. Thank you. And it’s my privilege to introduce Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator.
Deanne Criswell: (18:32)
Thanks, Christina. Good morning, everybody. First I’d like to recognize Administrator Spinrad. Our partnership has been excellent during my time in office and the relationship that FEMA has with NOAA really helps us get the information out to the public so we can make sure that we are helping people before, during and after disasters. And I’d like to say how great it is to be back here at New York City Emergency Management. Seeing my old colleagues has really been just such an honor to remember serving here, and to be able to come back now in this role, I couldn’t be more proud of the amazing work that New York City Emergency Management continues to do every day to help New Yorkers. And Mayor Adams, thank you for joining us today. It’s great to see you and thank you for your ongoing commitment and support of New York City Emergency Management. They do so much good for New Yorkers. As you heard today from Administrator Spinrad, we’re looking at another similar season for hurricane preparedness, but that doesn’t mean that we should take it lightly. As we saw from Hurricane Sandy or Super Storm Sandy, it doesn’t even have to be a hurricane to cause such devastation to communities. And so for years, the predictive weather data that we’ve gotten from NOAA has really helped FEMA in our ability to support critical decision making, and not just at FEMA, but also at the state and local level. That predictive modeling that they put out and the accuracy that they’ve been able to improve over the years has made our jobs easier in helping to get information out and warn the public when they’re facing these threats.
Deanne Criswell: (20:19)
So whether we face three storms or 30 storms, I’d like you to know that FEMA, we are ready for this hurricane season. We are going to continue to maintain a very strong forward leaning presence. We want to be able to make sure that we are putting personnel, commodities and equipment in place before the storm hits so we are ready to respond and support the communities that may have been impacted by the storm. We have our commodities pre-staged ready for rapid response operations spanning from the Pacific to the Caribbean, to the Eastern seaboard. And we have thousands of expert response personnel at the national as well as our regional level that are ready to support lifesaving and life sustaining operations.
Deanne Criswell: (21:04)
So my question to the public today is are you ready? We must not forget that just last year, Hurricane Ida made a nine state destructive trek across the United States. It affected coastal, urban and suburban communities. This shows me that no one is immune from the effects of these tropical storms.
Deanne Criswell: (21:29)
So FEMA has an urgent call to everyone, a call to action for everybody that lives in these areas. The time to get ready is now. As this year marks the 10th anniversary of Super Storm Sandy, which although again, was not classified as a hurricane, it brought devastating impacts. So there are actions that you can take today. The first one, know your risk. It’s incredibly important that you understand what your and your family’s risk is. Again, as we saw from Hurricane Ida, from the coast to the Midwest, to the Eastern seaboard, people had impacts across nine states. Know what your risk is. As you heard from Christina, First Deputy Commissioner, know your zone here in New York City, but across the U.S., know what your risk is.
Deanne Criswell: (22:20)
Once you know what your risk is, then you can make a plan to protect your family. It’s really important to better understand what your unique risk is going to be and put that plan in place for, if you have to evacuate, where are you going to go? How are you going to communicate with your family and your loved ones? What do you need to take with you? Sign up for emergency weather alerts. You heard how you can sign up for them here in New York City, but you can also download the FEMA app and get up to date wireless emergency alerts.
Deanne Criswell: (22:52)
And then finally, and I think one of the most important pieces that I can share, is listen to your local officials. Listen to them when they tell you to evacuate or shelter in place. It’s incredibly important that you follow their advice because it’s also going to protect you and your family, but it will also allow our first responders to continue to do the important work that they need to do. And so the first thing, or the most important thing that I will ask everybody, is that prepared families are safe families and a prepared nation is a resilient nation. So listen to your local officials, know what your risk is and make that plan to make sure that you can protect your families. Thank you.
Thank you, Administrator Criswell. Before we move on to the Q and A portion of our media briefing, I would like to introduce Matthew Rosencrans, the lead hurricane season outlook forecaster with NOAA’s climate prediction center, who is available to answer questions about the science behind NOAA’s hurricane outlook. For those of you who are joining us by webinar, I would like to remind you that you have the ability to ask written questions using the questions box to the right of your screen. Please be sure to include your full name and your media affiliation when asking your question and we will do our best to answer all incoming questions and the time available. Now we will take questions from our first reporter in the room. You, sir.
Steve Burns: (24:31)
Hi. Steve Burns WCBS Radio. I know there’s so much talk about Sandy and Ida and so much in the way of following advice here, but the advice in advance of both of those storms was notoriously terrible. There were no evacuation orders and they came very late. What kind of outreach changes and public policy changes have we seen at these agencies to be more proactive in their advanced warnings and not see a repeat of what we saw with Sandy and Ida, very little warning?
Would you like to take it?
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (25:14)
Hi, thank you for the question. So for Hurricane Sandy, there actually was a citywide evacuation. We had different zones at the time, but we evacuated several hundred thousand people. We have learned a lot since Hurricane Sandy. As you noted a year ago, we had Hurricane Ida. There was not an evacuation put in place. We had not seen rain like that. What happened overnight, the multiple inches per hour, but we know it’ll happen again. We have done a lot of work with our federal partners, city, state, everyone, we started enhanced messaging right last September as we saw weather in September and October, and we’ve been doing that. It is very hard work. We need everyone in the city to come together. We know there are people at risk that live in situations that compound their-
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (26:03)
… that live in situations that compound their risk, but we are incredibly dedicated. We’ve been working the whole off-season and we will message early, we will message often in all the languages that New Yorkers need. But as the administrators and others said, we need the media, we need our elected officials, we need faith-based leaders to help us when that message comes out and we need New Yorkers to pay attention and to follow the advice.
Steve Burns: (26:28)
And if I could briefly follow-up with you or the Mayor, obviously the big story with Ida was basement apartments and how at risk they are. The former Mayor mentioned a census. I wanted to see what kind of effort is ongoing in terms of figuring out how many basement apartments there are, what their risk is and how they can be protected?
Mayor Adams: (26:48)
Still underway. We want to legalize basement apartments. There’s legislation pending now in Albany. We hope we get the support from our state lawmakers to make it happen, but we’re still underway of getting the exact total account of those basement apartments. And also as the Deputy Commissioner stated, the goal is to use a universal language to all of our agencies, and what we’re looking at is how do we ensure a smart system that all of the agencies are kicking in gear at the same time and know what’s expected ahead of time, similar to what we do with the terrorist threat, everyone knows their roles, and we know how to coordinate in a better effort? Coordination, communication, and implementation, that’s the key to protect New Yorkers during the storm.
Reporter 3: (27:37)
So sorry, just following up on that. So if there is a storm coming, someone lives in a basement apartment, is there any specific outreach to let them know, “Hey, danger might be on the way. You might need to evacuate.”?
Mayor Adams: (27:48)
Yes, we’re looking at the text messaging system, as well as a communication system to let people know beforehand that what their zones are, what areas they live in. And as the Deputy Commissioner indicated, we’re talking mother nature. This stuff moves… none of us expected the level of rain we witnessed the last time, and being able to shift the communications in a rapid manner by proactively knowing what are the areas that are prone to flooding, that is extremely helpful. I never saw flooding like that in Crown Heights. Who would’ve imagined that level of water? So we have to be able to communicate fast and shift because these storms are coming rapidly and they’re coming in different ways.
Reporter 2: (28:41)
Hey, there, Mr. Mayor. Hi, this is for FEMA Work for You. I was just looking at the emergency management map that you’re sending folks to. I looked up one of the addresses where somebody died during Ida, it’s not in any flood zone. So I’m curious if there has been a new plan to adjust for zones when it has to do with rain flooding rather than coastal flooding? It doesn’t seem like where you’re sending people reflects that currently.
Mayor Adams: (29:01)
Of my understanding, that area, if you’re talking about the one in Queens-
Reporter 2: (29:01)
Yes, this is just on the edge of a flood zone, but where somebody died in their basement apartment [inaudible 00:29:01]
Mayor Adams: (29:01)
Right. Because part of the issues that we are facing, and that’s why we put $2.5 billion into the sewer upgrades in certain areas… part of the problem we’re facing is also drainage. We have to really reexamine how we’re building out our sewer systems. We may be building out some of our sewer systems based on storms of the past and not storms of today. If we cannot get rid of the water of these flood zones, it’s going to deal with those dangerous areas based on how the normal flooding areas… but if we don’t do a good job in catch basin cleanup, making sure the sewer systems can handle the water, there’s so much more we have to do inland that we are moving towards to correct.
Reporter 2: (30:01)
Maybe for FEMA then, would the warnings go to people who aren’t in any zone then if they’re in low lying areas that might flood from rain? Is that… Thanks, [inaudible 00:30:13].
Deanne Criswell: (30:13)
Yeah, I think what I would say is, when we talk about evacuations for flooding from hurricanes, we’re typically talking about storm surge inundation. So the flood zones are based on the type of inundation that we can expect and the flooding that we can expect from storm surge, because the majority of fatalities that we see from hurricanes come from storm surge. When we talk about the remnants of these tropical storms, and as Hurricane Ida went across nine states and then reached the Eastern seaboard, it brought a variety of other hazards, heavy rain. The type of evacuation and flood zones are not designed for rain events. It also brought tornadoes that we saw in New Jersey. So again, it’s incredibly important that individuals take the time to understand what their risk is, and if they live in a place that only has one form of egress, it’s incredibly important that they listen to the potential threats that might be coming to their area so they can take appropriate action.
Reporter 4: (31:17)
I get a question. As far as the evacuations go, what is the plan to make that run as smoothly as possible? What logistics are in place to address asking many people to move and imagining on kind of pretty short notice when roads might be flooded, subway tunnels might be flooded. Could you kind of lay out how that will work?
Deanne Criswell: (31:46)
Yeah. An important question, and I will go back to understanding and knowing your risk. So when we’re talking about evacuations from storm surge, we typically have some warning for storm surge, so people can take action and put the plan that they made in place. But we are seeing these storms develop faster. They’re developing more frequently, and so it’s giving our state and local emergency managers less time to actually warn the public. So FEMA does not issue evacuation orders, that comes from the state and the local level. And they have plans that they put in place on how they’re going to do that and when they make that decision. We support their operations. We can support it through mass care efforts, bringing supplies and commodities to shelters, and reimbursing for any of the activities that they put in place, but the state and the locals, they determine when they’re going to issue an evacuation order and then we can support them.
Reporter 4: (32:42)
I mean, Mayor Adams, on the city level, could you offer some more detail on what the plans are and how evacuations would work?
Mayor Adams: (32:52)
It really depends on knowing your evacuation location, your site, your route, and that’s the role we must play. We have to do a good job, if not a great job, in identifying what are the routes, where are your evacuation locations, pair them with the zones, and that is what we are putting together because late information could be deadly information. Our goal is to make sure that we communicate. I cannot emphasize that enough. Communication, communication, communication. Knowing what that information is early, allows us to do a proper job of evacuating and the routes to take. If you’re living in the Rockaways, if you’re living in Coney island, if you living in those coastal areas where there’s historical problems, we want to make sure we evacuate appropriately.
Reporter 4: (33:47)
Will those routes be laid out for us?
Mayor Adams: (33:48)
One moment. Hold on one moment. Can you control this?
Reporter 5: (33:54)
Mayor Adams: (33:54)
Just because you know how you guys come sometime.
Reporter 4: (33:58)
In the zone plan, you guys have the six zones. Each zone, will residents get a sense from the city, “These are the available routes you should use and these are the ones you shouldn’t use.”?
Mayor Adams: (34:10)
Reporter 4: (34:11)
Okay. Thank you.
Reporter 6: (34:11)
What has the city done to-
Mayor Adams: (34:16)
Hold on. Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on. We going to do this through one person.
Reporter 7: (34:19)
Mayor Adams, Jack [inaudible 00:34:20] from the New York Post. What is your plan B if 421 dies in Albany? What is your…
Reporter 5: (34:23)
We’re doing on topic first. We’re going to come back to that.
If I could just jump in. For the reporters in the room, we’d like to make sure that we have time to ask questions specifically about the hurricane outlook, which is what we’re here to announce today. So I’d like to take this question here from Al Roker.
Al Roker: (34:46)
[inaudible 00:34:46] Mayor and Administrator, just curious, we were talking about storm drains, things like that. It’s all based on what’s happening now, modeling now. Climate change obviously changing that, what plans are you making in coordination with FEMA to look ahead towards what is going to be happening?
Deanne Criswell: (35:09)
Such an incredibly important question. We’re seeing these storms happen more frequently. They’re lasting longer. I’ll go back to even Hurricane Ida, again. As it became a category four hurricane, than it stayed a category four hurricane for four hours over Southern Louisiana. I mean, that’s just remarkable, causing incredible amount of damage, but we’re also seeing the increase in the rapid intensification of our wildfires. So we’re seeing such a dramatic change in the type of weather events that we’re facing as a result of climate change, that we really have to get ahead of that. So one of the biggest things that FEMA is doing, is putting a lot more emphasis on the other parts of our mission, which is about preparedness and mitigation. Individual preparedness, incredibly important as we’ve already talked about, but reducing the impacts that we’re seeing from these storms. As we work to try to change the effects that we’re seeing from climate change, we have to be able, in the meantime, reduce the impacts that we’re seeing from the severe weather events.
Deanne Criswell: (36:14)
That’s why we were given close to 5 billion last year to put forward to communities, such as New York City, received one of the brick projects to help reduce the impacts that we’re seeing from climate change. We have to continue to do that. We’re doing a lot of outreach, especially to communities that maybe haven’t thought about the types of projects that they can do and the types of mitigation efforts that they can do, because we want to move away from this incremental approach to hazard mitigation, this house by house kind of approach. Incredibly important, and we still have to do that, but we also have to look at it from a system as a community and what can we do to better protect an entire community, so we can reduce their impacts that they’re seeing from these types of weather events.
Speaker 1: (36:59)
More on topic?
I’d like to now take some questions from reporters that are joining via webinar. Our first question from the webinar comes from Jared Silverman with WFAB. Jared is asking, to what do you attribute the uptick in active hurricane seasons in the Atlantic in recent years, specifically the role El Nino or lack thereof plays in the forecast and outcome?
Dr. Spinrad: (37:27)
Yeah. Thank you. That’s actually a really nice segue to the comments you just heard from Administrator Criswell. So we are in an active period. We’ve been in active periods before the ’50s, and early ’60s were an active period as well. There are certain ingredients, if you will, that drive the intensity and the frequency of hurricanes, whether we’re in a La Nina cycle or an El Nino cycle, climatological effects is one of those. We are in a continuing La Nina cycle right now. Impacts on things like the temperature of the ocean in the Atlantic, which is higher right now, also affect that, and if we have a particularly active West Africa monsoon season, as we do now, that also affects it. So those are the kinds of factors that we’re looking at right now that play into the outlook that you just saw.
Thank you, Dr. Spinrad. Our next question from the webinar comes from Andrew with Fox Four in Fort Myers. The question is, with the forecast of three straight years of an above normal hurricane season, how is climate change impacting our hurricanes? Dr. Spinrad or Matt?
Dr. Spinrad: (38:39)
So I think I just answered that, but I will add that as a note of caution, we can’t simply point to a particular storm, whether it’s a strong storm like Ida or any others, and say, “There that is climate change.” The attribution is more in the patterns, the tendencies, the mode that we’re in, and so the factors I just alluded to, which are a component of climate change, that La Nina impact, the warming-
Dr. Spinrad: (39:03)
… a component of climate change, that La Nina impact, the warming tropical ocean waters, the west African monsoon, or the climatological factors that we’re looking at that affect this outlook.
We received a question from Joseph with the Staten Island Advance. Joseph is asking, NOAA previously released an adjusted set of climate averages to determine what is considered normal in terms of national temperatures. Is NOAA considering making similar changes when assessing what is considered normal for Atlantic hurricane season, and what is the consistent above-average projections?
Mr. Ray: (39:47)
Dr. Spinrad: (39:47)
Yeah. Yes, Mr. Ray, I will.
Dr. Spinrad: (39:49)
We regularly, as a matter of operations, revisit the outlook in mid-hurricane season. You can expect to see that. That’s a standard procedure for us. I would say that we will continue to monitor the long term trends in intensity and frequency of these storms, as we’ve done for years. We’re not necessarily in the business of recalibrating, if you will, what is average. That’s a statistical determination from the data that we get. We’ll be looking at the trends over the decades to provide an indication of how things are changing over the years.
Do we have any questions from reporters in the room that are specific to the hurricane outlook forecast? I think I saw your hand first.
Rebecca Greenberg: (40:36)
Rebecca Greenberg, New York One. This [inaudible 00:40:39]. Is there a specific reason why New York City was chosen at the location for this year’s announcement?
The question in the room was, was there a specific reason why New York City was chosen for the location of this announcement this year? Dr. Spinrad?
Dr. Spinrad: (40:55)
I think it’s safe to say there are two factors. One of which is we’re recognizing 10 years after Sandy, it seems appropriate to take a look back and see how things have improved, but also recognize the work that we need to do. Then of course, the impact of Ida last year is one that’s fresh in many people’s memories, and we felt it most appropriate to come here and talk with folks.
Dr. Spinrad: (41:17)
There is another aspect. A lot of people throughout the country tend to think of hurricanes as an isolated phenomenon in the Gulf or in the Southeast. Part of our message here by being in New York is that it is very much a large phenomenon affecting a large portion of the population and the geography of the United States.
Speaker 2: (41:38)
Mayor Adams your predecessor after Ida said that the city can expect to see mandatory evacuations, travel bans, et cetera. Do you plan to continue that policy if things get bad?
Mayor Adams: (41:53)
Okay. We’ll take our next question from reporters that are joining us via webinar. Can you please talk about the factors that went into the forecast: La Nina, sea surface temperatures, loop current. This will be the seventh above average hurricane season. What’s driving that? That question came from Jenny with WLRN Public Radio.
Sure. The main factors that we looked at for the hurricane outlook, the above normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, which are still above, the ongoing La Nina right now, the latest weekly value for that was minus one, and that’s forecast to stay throughout the entire hurricane season. We’ve also looked at the winds over the Atlantic ocean, which are more favorable for the disturbances that come off of Africa to develop into hurricanes. That more favorable environment just leads to a little bit tilt in the odds to having an above normal hurricane season.
Do we have any other questions from reporters in the room, specifically about the hurricane outlook? Yes.
Speaker 3: (43:06)
Yeah. I’d love to know what, from the new normal report that was released from the last administration that Mayor Adams just said he was following, has been done to protect New Yorkers since Hurricane Ida? This press conference has been a lot about personal responsibility and preparedness, but what has the city, state and federal done to protect New Yorkers since then?
The question is about a report that was released last year about the new normals. What has the city, state and federal partners done to protect Mew Yorker since then?
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (43:42)
Hi. As you noted, the new normal report was released a couple weeks after Ida and we have been working emergency management, the mayor’s office, environmental protection, all of our different partners on the different aspects of that to prepare as we get into the storm season. As I mentioned, we already started enhanced messaging and we’ve done a lot. We were working in the off-season doing focus groups, speaking to non-English speakers about the messaging to see if it was effective, how we can work. As I mentioned, Notify NYC, we now have a million subscribers. It is available in 14 languages, but most of those subscribers are in English. We know the people that need the information the most may not get it all the time. We are continuing.
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (44:27)
We also have expanded our Strengthening Communities program, which was started during COVID, but we’ve increased the funding. That is working with nonprofit partners, community-based partners in the most vulnerable areas. We’ve added people from the areas in Queens and Brooklyn that saw a lot of flooding. Those are giving money to community groups to work with us to make sure that people are prepared. They’re getting the message.
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (44:52)
Then there are infrastructure and other pieces that are working through DEP and the other agencies. But we are incorporating the best practices that were identified there, along with the priorities of the new administration. As the administrator mentioned, we have received federal funding through BRICK. There are other grants available, and we also have very strong partners in the state.
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (45:15)
It is a large undertaking. Obviously climate change is here to stay, but we are looking at all the pieces to better prepare New Yorkers.
Speaker 3: (45:23)
Just to follow up. There were two updates after that report, but the new administration hasn’t released any. Will you commit to doing that?
Deputy Commissioner Farrell: (45:30)
We are doing it in a more holistic way, looking at the different priorities and how this administration wants to update New Yorkers. Maybe not through the updates of the report, but through other means such as this press conference.
Our next question comes from Maggie Astor with the New York Times. The loop current looks similar this year to the way it did in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, when several hurricanes underwent rapid intensification over a warm loop current in the Gulf. Is this one of the factors influencing this year’s forecast? If so, what can you tell us about the anticipated impact?
Yeah, so the loop current does look like 2005, but it depends on if a storm actually moves over that loop current. Forecasting the track of storms, the specific track of storms, it’s not something we can do beyond the, about a week timeframe. Whether or not a storm moves over the loop current and it actually impacts it and helps it undergo rapid intensification, it’s not something we can address at this far of a lead time.
Our next question comes from Seth Bornstein, and he’s asking, what’s the forecast ACE and what factors in addition to La Nina go into this above average forecast? Additionally, what is the forecasted accumulated cyclone energy index?
Matt, do you want to take that one?
Yep. The forecast ACE range, the accumulated cyclone energy, that’s a total measure for the entire season, which counts for both intensity and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, that’s forecast to be 115% to 200% of normal. Could be as active as twice as normal.
Our next question comes from Andrea with the Houston Chronicle. She’s asking will this Saharan dust affect this hurricane season? If so, how? Matt?
Stand closer to the mic.
Oh, all right.
Yeah, so the Saharan air layer, Saharan dust, it does impact typically earlier in the season. As you get waves that come off of Africa, they interact with the dry air and can keep down some of the parts of the season. As you move into the earlier parts of the season, it’s less of a factor, especially in years when you have an active west African monsoon, you can actually keep down some of that dust. Those outbreaks typically last six days to ten days, so they can kind of come and go throughout the season. It’s not likely to impact the entire season as a whole.
Matt, this last one will likely be for you. If you could tell us why NOAA chooses to use a range for storms expected. For example, why are there 14 to 21 name storms expected this year? That question comes from Justine with The Verge.
Sure. NOAA uses a range rather a specific number to account for some of the uncertainties in making these forecasts. They’re made based off of measurements of the ocean, measurements of the atmosphere. We don’t have exact measurements of those on the entire planet all the time. There’s a lot of uncertainties in that. There’s uncertainties in the weather models that we run. They’re calculations made with certain assumptions and they don’t account for every single possibility. These forecasts are given with an accuracy range of about 70%, and then we’ve been pretty solid getting close to that every year, since about 2008. Thanks.
Thank you, Matt. That appears to be our last, sorry, we have one more question in the room.
Speaker 4: (49:39)
Hi, Mr. Mayor, you said that you want make changes to the landmark climate law from two years ago, the one that requires the retro [inaudible 00:49:46] for large buildings. A, how do you square that with trying, talking about these kinds of, the greater impact that climate change is going to have on the city? Also, do you still think that the law should be amended to give the property owners more [inaudible 00:50:07]?
Mayor Adams: (50:06)
You talking about Local Law 97?
Speaker 4: (50:08)
Mayor Adams: (50:08)
Okay. I didn’t say that. Next.
All right. We are now out of time for the day. I’d like to thank you all for joining us, especially NOAA administrator Dr. Spinrad, Mayor Adams, first deputy commissioner Far-