By Nathan Hutchings, 96th Weather Squadron
/ Published June 18, 2019
Dave Elliott, 96th Weather Squadron weather technician, monitors the weather in the Eglin Air Force Base area. This year, National Hurricane Center forecasters predict nine to 15 named storms in the Atlantic basin. The NHC said four to eight storms will become hurricanes and two to four of them will become potential Category Three or higher major hurricanes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Gaddie)
The 2019 hurricane season is here.
According to a recent advisory issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a 40 percent chance of an “average” season.
An average season typically produces 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
This year, National Hurricane Center forecasters predict nine to 15 named storms in the Atlantic basin. The NHC predict four to eight will become hurricanes and two to four of them will become potential Category Three or higher major hurricanes.
Although this is considered an average season, Eglin personnel and mission partners should remain cognizant of the threat and be prepared for any new developments, according to Lt. Col. Perry Sweat, 96th Weather Squadron commander.
"As we saw last year with Hurricane Michael, storms can rapidly intensify over the warm gulf waters,” Sweat said. “It takes just one storm to significantly affect personnel and their families and the time to develop a preparedness plan is today.”
The 96th WS team provides the specific details of any tropical system impacting the base and the surrounding area. To help provide necessary lead times, 96th WS forecasters analyze for distinct weather patterns as far east as the African Cape Verde islands.
Closer to home, 96th WS weather technicians remain on constant watch for any possible tropical storm development in the Gulf of Mexico, specifically within 800 nautical miles of Eglin. The 96th WS team works in conjunction with the NHC to interrogate weather data and identify any threats along the forecasted official storm track.
Once a storm is expected to make landfall along the Gulf Coast, the 96th WS team generates impact forecasts tailored to their supported units.
Then, the 96th Test Wing commander considers the squadron’s forecasted impacts to determine the appropriate Hurricane Condition level - a time-phased alert system used to indicate the base’s response level for an approaching hurricane - and decides if a mandatory personnel evacuation is warranted.
For more information, visit Eglin’s hurricane information page.