News 3 talks to National Hurricane Director about upcoming hurricane season

Hurricane Iota
Posted at 6:11 AM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 09:51:25-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It was a double whammy: 2020 was the most active hurricane season on record inside of a historic pandemic.

"We had a record season of 30 named storms, the most we've seen in 170 years of record keeping," said National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham.

Here in Hampton Roads, we felt the wrath of Hurricane Isaias, a tornado maker, with more than 30 tornado warnings as well as deaths and damage stretching from Bertie County in North Carolina to Southampton County in Virginia.

"We are coming out of the 2020 season stronger than ever, we have tested so many new things," Graham told News 3.

As far as the 2021 season outlook, "It looks like we are still in this pattern of more than average active pattern," Graham said.

But the NHC has some new tools to prompt quicker evacuations and more accurate forecasts, including a new storm surge forecast model.

"We can extend out in time right now 48 hours for storm surge, but it looks like we may be able to go out 60 hours this season," he said. "More than 80 percent of fatalities in tropical systems come from water."

That early information is incredibly useful to our area, which is home to low-lying areas prone to flooding.

"In your area, some of that storm surge could come from rivers and come from miles inland, so the storm surge isn't just coastal," Graham said.

The National Hurricane Center will start issuing advisories on May 15 ahead of the June 1 start to hurricane season.

"It is never too late time to start looking at that written plan for your family, plan for something that could last for weeks," Graham said.