Coastal Perspectives With Meteorologist Adam Strzempko

“Even though it is expected to be a more active season than normal there is really no way to tell what storms will make landfall.” – Adam Strzempko, WWLP-22News Weekend Meteorologist 

When it comes to coastal design and construction, weather will have a huge effect on the long-term performance of a project.  While damaging weather is a four-season concern, on the coast it’s often hurricanes that grab the majority of the headlines. With the 2013 hurricane season now underway, homeowners on the Atlantic coast should anticipate another active hurricane season this year.

The prediction for 2013 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is that the season (June 1 – November 30) will be “above normal and possibly extremely active.”

Americans living along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast should take steps now to make sure they are prepared should a major hurricane strike – that means food, water and batteries to last three days, a communication plan so friends and family can find you, an up-to-date insurance plan, and the ability to secure your property.

We checked in with meteorologist Adam Strzempko of WWLP-22News in Springfield, MA for his perspective on what coastal residents might expect from this year, and for his opinion on how they can manage through the season.

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  • Meteorologists are predicting that the 2013 Hurricane Season will be an active one. How many hurricanes are expected to  make landfall this year, and why do you think this year will be more active than average? 

It is forecast to be a more active hurricane season than normal. NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher). These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

Even though it is expected to be more a more active season than normal there is really no way to tell what storms will make landfall. That can really only be determined once the storm forms and then looking at what weather systems will affect its path at that time.

This hurricane season is expected to be so active because of warmer than average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Also an El Niño, which often helps to suppress hurricane formation, is not expected to develop.

  • What advice would you have for hurricane preparedness for people who live on the coast – both in general, and when a hurricane strike is imminent? Should someone prepare differently depending on the “rating” of the storm?

People living along the coast should have a plan ready. To protect your property, storm shutters are a good idea or boarding up windows ahead of an approaching storm. Whether you should evacuate will depend on how close you are to the coast. People right along the shoreline should really consider evacuating for just about any category storm. A Tropical Storm or even a Category 1 hurricane can cause considerable storm surge if it comes in at high tide. If a hurricane is a category 3 through 5 people even near the coast should move inland due to storm surge that could move in several miles in some cases.

  • How are changing weather patterns impacting New England coastal environments? What changes most concern you in terms of coastal living? 

Changing weather patterns do seem to be having an effect on the New England coastal environment. Between tropical storms and hurricanes and intense Nor’easters in the spring, fall and winter we continue to see considerable beach erosion along the New England coastline. The most concerning thing I am seeing are homes that are becoming uninhabitable because the erosion is making the ground they were built on unsafe. It’s also worrisome to see how the erosion has changed the way some of our beaches used to look like.

  • What kind of tools do meteorologists have at their disposal when it comes to hurricane predictions?

When it comes to forecasting hurricanes we have quite a bit now at our disposal. There are numerous computer models that help forecast the path of a hurricane. There are new satellites that give us a much better view of the storm and what is actually going on inside it. There are also hurricane planes with the latest technology that fly into the storms to give us an even better idea of what is happening inside the hurricane.

  • Knowing what you do about the weather conditions that can affect coastal areas, if you were building a house on the coast, are there any specific steps you would take to safeguard your home? 

If I was to build a house on the coast I think the one thing I would do, and what I see a lot of people doing and it seems to help out, is to raise the house or build it on stilts. In some of the recent storms this seems to have helped save a number of homes that would otherwise have been flooded or even washed away when the storm surge came in. I believe some states have changed their building codes and are requiring homes to be built this way depending on how close they are to the water. Also if I were to have a house on the coast I would make sure it had storm shutters.

Throughout the summer, other professionals will share their thoughts and experiences with us on the many factors that come into play in coastal living and construction.  In the meantime, if you have questions about a coastal project, contact the Hastings team. Email support@awhastings.com or call your Hastings Sales Representative.

WebBio-AdamStrzempko_20100924095628_320_240Adam Strzempko is the Weekend Meteorologist for WWLP-22News in Springfield, MA.  Adam has been keeping viewers informed and safe for 15 years, and enjoys the challenge of predicting New England’s changeable weather patterns. 

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