A Central Florida lawmaker is trying to convince the federal government to start the hurricane season earlier beginning next year.
U.S. Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, of Orlando, sent a letter this week to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, requesting that hurricane season officially begin in mid-May. The current season runs from June 1 through November 30.
However, Murphy says there has been at least one named storm before June 1 during each of the past six years.
She adds that were three tropical storms — Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal — formed in mid-May and the beginning of June this year alone.
“This presents a practical problem, because government officials and residents in hurricane-prone states use this season to inform their funding choices, public awareness campaigns, and preparation decisions,” Murphy’s letter explains.
It goes on to say, “Accordingly, an official season that does not accurately predict major storm activity could result in readiness being compromised and people and property being harmed.”
Tropical Storm Cristobal formed very early, spawning a tornado that caused damage here in Central Florida. It is clear that the official Atlantic hurricane season can no longer accurately predict hurricane activity. We should extend it. #FlaPol #FL07https://t.co/VaulggpQBC
— Rep. Stephanie Murphy (@RepStephMurphy) June 17, 2020
NOAA has received the congresswoman’s letter and the agency looks forward to discussing the topic with her, according to spokesman Christopher Vaccaro.
Although several tropical storms have formed in the Atlantic Ocean before June 1 in recent years, most of them have been considered “marginal in their structure,” says Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.
In addition, improved satellite monitoring has likely led to an increase in short-lived, weak storms being named by the National Hurricane Center during recent years.
The only named hurricane before June since the satellites started being used in 1966 was Hurricane Alma, which occurred in 1970.
“I don’t think there is any reason to lengthen the hurricane season, since we haven’t had a hurricane in May in 50 years,” Klotzbach said in an email.