WASHINGTON – Cars were crushed, homes were split in two by downed trees, and power outages left Washington area residents sweating in the dark for days.
Last year’s derecho, an unusual storm system, left the area with just hours to prepare.
What can we expect when hurricane season hits this year?
Hurricanes don’t keep to a calendar, but hurricane season is officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
And this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a 70 percent chance of up to 20 named storms with winds speeds of 39 mph or higher.
Those named storms may or may not become hurricanes. But predictions say six of them could become major hurricanes, with winds of up to 111mph or higher.
As soon as storms form over the Atlantic, forecasters, local governments and utilities begin monitoring them closely. Getting as much advance notice as possible is critical.
Chris Strong with the National Weather Service says last summer’s derecho formed quickly and the Washington area had very little time to prepare.
Tornadoes are also tricky to predict. And despite advances in technology, they leave little time for preparation.
“If you go back before the Doppler radar era, back into the 70’s and the 80’s, having a few minutes of lead time was a success back then,” Strong says of tornado prediction.
While hurricanes often provide more advanced notice, the key is still to be prepared.