By Lauren Wanko
Superstorm Sandy made landfall nearly 18 months ago, but New Jerseyans are still recovering from the damage it left behind and now another hurricane season is upon us.
“I think after Sandy, we saw, we all saw what could happen not only if our house or business is damaged but prolonged two-week power outages,” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden.
NOAA’s 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook predicts eight to 13 named storms, of which three to six could become hurricanes, including one to two major hurricanes. The six-month season begins June 1.
The agency’s forecasting a near- or below-normal season due to the anticipated development of El Niño this summer, which is an arrangement of atmospheric wind fields and ocean temperatures that’s out of the ordinary in the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects atmospheric patterns globally.
“What happens is that the El Niño event in the Pacific impacts the upper level winds in the atmosphere up around the level where jets would fly for instance. It doesn’t allow the storms in the Atlantic to percolate up through the atmosphere and develop into a major storm,” said David Robinson.
Instead those winds rip apart the storm as it’s trying to build in the atmosphere.
Since Sandy hit, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office rolled out a new program under their emergency preparedness measures. It’s called STORM — Seniors Taking On Readiness Measures. The sheriff says it’s meant to target their most vulnerable population — seniors. They’re all given kits filled with important emergency essentials like blankets, water and a flashlight. Before they get the kit, seniors fill out a brochure with important contacts and medications.
“We kinda identified that population that really gave us the most challenge during storm Sandy in terms of movement, and sheltering and reestablishing,” Golden said.
Still Golden wants everyone to be ready for the season. Officials recommend residents prepare an emergency go bag, make a family emergency plan and stay informed.
“We do have flashlights and candles ready,” said Tinton Falls resident Joseph Berner.
“I feel that oftentimes some of the preparedness tends to skew more towards panic,” said Shark River Hills resident Margaret Ring.
NOAA spokesperson tells NJTV News the 2014 hurricane outlook doesn’t predict where storms will strike and where they’re expected to make landfall.
“So we should never let our guard down. Even though the forecast shows with that, the odds of having a high number of storms is slim, it only takes one,” said Robinson.
And that would be one too many for New Jersey’s storm-weary residents.