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Risk in Context

NOAA Forecast 2016: Might it Be Time to Dust Off Your CAT Plan?

Posted by Chandra Seymour May 31, 2016

The tragedy wrought by Tropical Storm Bonnie over the holiday weekend emphasized the importance of refreshing catastrophe response plans in preparation for this year’s hurricane season. After three consecutive years of “below-normal” hurricane activity predictions in the Atlantic, experts have heightened their prediction to “near-normal” activity for the 2016 season.

Released last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) outlook calls for a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season this year. According to NOAA, the Atlantic hurricane season — which runs June 1 through November 30 — will have a range of 10 to 16 tropical storms. Four to eight of those storms may become hurricanes, with potentially two growing to Category 3 strength (top sustained winds of at least 111 mph) or higher.

Driving this year’s outlook is a shift from the warm phase  of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) toward a cool phase. This may bring an end to the current high activity era of Atlantic hurricanes, which began in 1995.

The El Niño/La Niña Factor

The El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, which suppresses hurricane activity in the Atlantic by increasing the amount of wind shear and the sinking motion in the atmosphere, is dissipating. Meanwhile, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts a 70% chance that La Niña, which favors more hurricane activity, will occur in August through October — the peak months of the season. However, current model predictions don’t show how strong La Niña and its impacts could be.

The Time to Prepare for Hurricane Season Is Now

Regardless of whether a severe hurricane season is expected, you should develop, review, and/or update your preparedness and response plans for any potentially affected locations .

Well-developed, actionable, and practiced plans can help mitigate the effects of a potential catastrophe (CAT) event, whether a hurricane or another hazard. Such plans can help you properly address critical operational and financial issues when filing insurance claims and executing recovery plans. They also can help protect your employees, facilities, and the affected community, particularly if your property is needed for shelter.

Take precautionary steps to protect your people and assets. By preparing now and testing your natural catastrophe response plans, you’ll be ready for whatever track this year’s hurricane season takes.

Chandra Seymour

Senior Vice President, MRC Reputational Risk and Crisis Management