Because the pandemic wasn't enough of a challenge: A stronger-than-usual hurricane season is forecast for the Atlantic. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to 19 named storms, including up to 10 hurricanes, reports the Wall Street Journal. The typical numbers are 12 and 6, respectively. Of those hurricanes, three to six could rise to the level of "major" hurricanes, or Category 3 and above. The hurricane season officially launches on June 1 and runs to Nov. 30. Already, emergency planners are worrying about how to manage shelters in an age of social distancing, notes the Journal and the AP.
“The current health crisis and resulting health guidance, including social distancing, are on all of our minds,” says NOAA chief Neil Jacobs. “This is especially important as we factor those actions into planning how to take the right safety precautions when a hurricane or other severe weather threatens.” If mass shelters are required, authorities may have to opt for schools or hotels, where people can be more easily separated, over convention centers or gymnasiums. As for the 2020 forecast: If the number of storms does indeed exceed the average of 12, this would be the fifth straight year that happened, notes the AP. Last year saw three major hurricanes: Dorian, Humberto, and Lorenzo. (We've already had one named storm, even before the official start of the season.)