Although the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season officially started on Tuesday, the first named storm began brewing off the Atlantic coast more than a week earlier, marking the seventh consecutive year that hurricanes have formed ahead of the June 1 season start date, and kicking off what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center expects will be another active, above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.
“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, following the NOAA’s prediction announcement on May 20. President Joe Biden then on May 24 announced he is doubling emergency spending in preparation of the hurricane season.
But in Florida, which for the most part remained unscathed in 2020 during what was a record-breaking hurricane season nationally, residents are less worried about the season of storms ahead than they were one year ago, according to a recent survey, and are also less prepared.
Despite the active storm projections, just 73% of Floridians expressed concerns about at least one aspect of hurricane season, down from 91% 12 months earlier, according to a pre-season survey from the “Get Ready, Florida!” public education initiative. Concern that the storms could also add to existing strains on first responders fell from 62% to 31% in 2021, cut in half since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Preparedness levels have also fallen in Florida, according to the survey, where just 21% said they were more prepared for the coming storm season than in the past, down from 51% the year prior.
To encourage Floridians to prepare for the 2021 hurricane season, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a 10-day sales tax holiday, ending June 6, extending what is typically a weeklong tax holiday this year to give residents ample time to stock up on disaster supplies.
“With an active hurricane season predicted this year, Floridians need to ensure they have at least seven days of supplies and put a disaster plan in place now,” DeSantis said in a statement.
Other governors have made similar efforts to help their residents prepare for hurricane season. In Texas, officials annually offer a tax holiday in April for hurricane preparedness, while in Virginia a tax holiday for storm supplies begins in August. South Carolina officials are promoting the state’s Hurricane Preparedness Week to urge residents to prepare for severe weather. And in Louisiana, where a tax holiday was offered in November for hurricane and coronavirus relief, some communities are still reeling from multiple hurricanes during the 2020 season as the 2021 season begins.
The NOAA predicts a range of 13 to 20 named storms in 2021, six to 10 of which they say could become hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes with winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. And although the agency’s scientists don’t expect this year’s hurricane season to be as busy as last year’s, acting NOAA Administrator Ben Friedman noted that “it only takes one storm to devastate a community.”
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Atlantic Hurricane Season Is Here and Florida Residents Aren’t Worried originally appeared on usnews.com