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Hurricane Preparedness in PA

May 09, 2022 03:00 PM
By: PEMA

Image of dark sky with lightning and yellow sign that reads "Hurricane Season"

​The Atlantic hurricane season is almost here – beginning June 1! According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30.

What can we expect this year?

NOAA will issue its initial seasonal outlook for the 2022 hurricane season in late May. NOAA maintains data that defines what an average season looks like, but the number of storms only, not their impacts. Last year, the average annual count for tropical systems was updated to reflect the most recent 30 years of hurricane data from 1991 to 2020.

The 30-year average for the Atlantic basin yields:

  • 14 named storms
  • 7 hurricanes
  • 3 major hurricanes

The hurricane season has shown a more active trend of both hurricanes and tropical storms over the past few decades.

Continue reading to learn more about hurricane hazards and how you can be ready.

PA Hurricane Hazards and What to Expect

The difference between hurricanes and (named) tropical storms comes down to wind speed. A tropical storm has maximum sustained surface winds ranging from 39 to 73 mph. A hurricane has maximum sustained surface winds of 74 mph or greater (64 knots or greater).

Regardless, both can cause significant damage. Hazards related to hurricanes and tropical storms include rain, wind, tornadoes, waves, and storm surge. In Pennsylvania, we focus on preparing for rain, wind and tornadoes since our coastal areas are limited, reducing threats for waves and surge.

Rain (Flooding)

Inland river and flash flooding from heavy rain is the most common threat statewide, and flooding is the most likely threat from a tropical system in Pennsylvania.

You don’t have to live in a flood zone to see the threat of flooding. In fact, 20 percent of all flood claims are for properties outside of high-risk flood areas. Half of the lives lost due to flooding are in vehicles, often at night with limited visibility, so never attempt to drive through flood waters. Last year, Ida alone was responsible for four flood-related deaths in Pennsylvania.

Wind/Tornado (Damage)

Hurricanes can bring damaging wind and tornadoes. Both Isaias in 2020 and Ida in 2021 brought with them numerous tornadoes, some strong, resulting in injury and a fatality. Tornadoes are 4th on the list of our top ten threats we face in Pennsylvania.

Don’t think a tornado can affect you? Since 1950, tornadoes have been recorded in every county of the state. In 2021 alone, there were 44 tornadoes, the second-highest annual tally in the state. (1998 tops the list with 61.)

Learn More

Learn more about the hazards and how tropical storms and hurricanes can affect you and your family’s safety.


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