Warmer Ocean Temps Could be a Sign of a Busy 2024 Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season Impacts

As an MSP serving hundreds of businesses in areas with the potential to be affected by hurricanes, WheelHouse IT understands the importance of early preparation. While the hurricane season officially begins in June, the current oceanic and climatic indicators suggest that the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season could be more active than usual, making now the optimal time for businesses to prepare.

Unusually Warm Ocean Temperatures: A Sign to Start Preparing

Recent observations have revealed that sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, particularly in the Main Development Region (MDR), are significantly warmer than usual for this time of year—resembling conditions typically seen in July. This anomaly is not just a curiosity of nature; it holds significant implications for the development of tropical systems. Warmer sea temperatures fuel hurricanes, providing them with the energy needed to maintain or increase their strength.

Why This Matters for Your Business

While these conditions do not immediately threaten the coastal United States, they signal a potentially active hurricane season ahead. The presence of an El Nino effect, which usually disrupts storm formation, is expected to weaken, possibly giving way to a La Nina pattern. This transition, coupled with the already warm Atlantic waters, could lead to a notably busy hurricane season.

The Imperative of Early Preparation

For businesses in hurricane-prone areas, these indicators serve as a critical reminder that preparation cannot wait for a storm warning. Migrating on-premise servers to the cloud is a pivotal step in safeguarding your data and ensuring business continuity. Cloud migration not only protects your data from physical damage but also ensures that your business can continue operations uninterrupted, regardless of the weather conditions.

Building Your Plan: Don’t Wait for the Storm

Developing a comprehensive business continuity plan is essential. This plan should outline the steps your business will take before, during, and after a hurricane to minimize downtime and ensure a swift recovery. Key components include data backup strategies, communication plans, and recovery procedures.

WheelHouse IT: Your Partner in Preparedness

At WheelHouse IT, we specialize in helping businesses like yours prepare for the hurricane season. From cloud migration services to business continuity planning, our team is ready to assist you in developing and implementing a strategy that ensures your operations remain uninterrupted, no matter what the season brings.

Conclusion: A Proactive Approach to Hurricane Season

The early indicators of an active 2024 hurricane season underscore the importance of preparation. By taking proactive steps now, such as migrating to the cloud and developing a robust business continuity plan, you can safeguard your business against the unpredictable nature of hurricanes. WheelHouse IT is here to support you every step of the way, ensuring that your business remains resilient in the face of natural disasters.

National Hurricane Center says no to adding Category 6 to Scale

Category 6

In recent discussions surrounding the intensification of tropical storms due to climate change, rumors swirled about a potential new addition to the hurricane scale: a Category 6. We even reported these rumors just two days ago. A study suggesting that the strongest storms are becoming even more powerful sparked this speculation, leading to debates on whether the current Saffir-Simpson scale, which categorizes hurricanes from 1 to 5, accurately represents these changes.

The National Hurricane Center, however, has clarified that there are no plans to introduce a Category 6 to the hurricane scale. This decision stems from the understanding that the scale’s current structure, ending at Category 5, sufficiently conveys the severe impact of the most powerful storms, with Category 5 hurricanes already described as causing “catastrophic” wind damage.

What Does This Mean

Despite the absence of changes to the hurricane classification system, the conversation brings to light the undeniable fact that climate change is contributing to stronger hurricanes. Researchers have noted that since 2013, five Pacific storms would have qualified for the hypothetical Category 6 classification, with winds exceeding 192 miles per hour. These findings emphasize the growing strength of hurricanes, highlighting the importance of preparing for these more intense storms.

For businesses, especially, the start of the hurricane season should be a reminder of the critical need for robust preparedness plans. At WheelHouse IT, we understand the importance of business continuity and the devastating impact that severe weather can have on operations. As a Managed Service Provider (MSP) dedicated to supporting businesses, we emphasize the necessity of having a comprehensive plan and redundancies in place to ensure that your business can weather any storm.

One effective strategy for enhancing business resilience is the adoption of cloud services. Cloud computing not only provides flexibility and scalability but also securely backs up your critical data and applications off-site. This can be invaluable in the event of a disaster, providing businesses with the ability to maintain operations remotely, even when physical locations are affected.

In conclusion, while the hurricane scale may not be changing, the reality of stronger storms means that readiness should never be underestimated. For businesses, this means taking proactive steps to safeguard operations, data, and, ultimately, their future. WheelHouse IT is here to support you in these efforts, offering solutions and expertise to ensure that your business remains strong, no matter the weather.

Strengthening Business Continuity: Key Learnings from Hurricane Idalia for IT Preparedness

a satellite image of a Hurricane Idalia in the ocean

In the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, a powerful reminder of nature’s force, WheelHouse IT underscores the vital need for businesses to bolster their storm preparedness, especially from an IT and technology perspective. The hurricane’s journey from a Category 4 intensity over open waters to making landfall as a Category 3 storm near Keaton Beach, FL, coupled with surges reaching up to 12 feet, marks a clear call to action for comprehensive disaster readiness.

Adopting Cloud Technology for Resilience Post Hurricane Idalia

The transition to cloud-based services is no longer optional but necessary for ensuring business continuity in the face of natural disasters. Cloud computing offers unparalleled flexibility and access to critical business functions and data, regardless of physical office conditions. Hurricane Idalia’s extensive impact, with estimated damages of $3.6 billion, primarily in Florida’s Big Bend, illustrates the havoc such events can wreak on physical infrastructure. Businesses utilizing cloud services can maintain operations remotely, ensuring both employee safety and business uptime.

Comprehensive Planning and Regular Drills

The path of Idalia, from its inception in the Pacific to its landfall and the subsequent devastation, highlights the unpredictable nature of such storms. It’s crucial for businesses to not only have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place but also to regularly practice these protocols. Regular drills ensure that your team is familiar with emergency procedures, minimizing downtime and confusion during actual events.

Ensuring Redundancies

Idalia’s report details surges and wind speeds that caused widespread power outages and infrastructure damage. For businesses, this underscores the importance of having redundancies in place, especially for critical IT infrastructure. This includes backup power solutions, such as generators and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), and data backups in geographically diverse locations to prevent loss from localized damage.

Network and Data Protection

With the extensive rainfall and flooding reported, the physical damage to network infrastructure can be substantial. Businesses must protect their network components and ensure that data is backed up and encrypted offsite. Utilizing cloud-based backup solutions provides an additional layer of security, allowing businesses to recover more rapidly from any data loss incidents.

Employee Safety and Remote Work Capabilities

The human aspect of disaster preparedness is paramount. Idalia was responsible for 12 deaths, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing employee safety above all. Businesses must facilitate remote work capabilities, ensuring that employees can fulfill their duties from the safety of their homes during such crises. This approach not only protects staff but also ensures that business operations can continue with minimal disruption.

Hurricane Idalia Aftermath: A Call to Action for IT Preparedness

Hurricane Idalia’s impact is a potent reminder of the critical need for businesses to invest in IT preparedness. By adopting cloud technologies, ensuring redundancies, protecting data and networks, and prioritizing employee safety, businesses can navigate the challenges posed by natural disasters more effectively. WheelHouse IT is committed to guiding businesses through these preparations, offering solutions that ensure resilience and continuity no matter the circumstances. Let Idalia serve as a catalyst for strengthening your business against future storms, safeguarding your operations, employees, and data against the unpredictable forces of nature.

Considering a Category 6: Adapting the Hurricane Scale for an Era of Climate Change

Hurricane Season is Half Over - Be Prepared for Next Year’s

In recent years, we’ve witnessed the formation of exceptionally powerful tropical storms, prompting discussions among experts about the potential introduction of a new hurricane category: Category 6. This proposal stems from the observation that the most severe storms are intensifying due to climate change, challenging the adequacy of the current five-category Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, established over half a century ago.

Two climate scientists, in a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argue for this additional category to account for storms with winds surpassing 192 miles per hour. This suggestion comes in response to the current Category 5 threshold of 157 mph, which, they argue, fails to adequately differentiate the extreme dangers posed by storms nearing or exceeding 200 mph.

Despite these calls for a new category, several experts maintain that the existing system suffices. They caution that focusing on wind speed alone might overlook the more significant threat posed by water, including storm surge and flooding, which historically have been the most lethal aspects of hurricanes.

Since 2013, five Pacific storms have reached the proposed Category 6 wind speeds, with two impacting the Philippines significantly. The increasing warmth of our planet is believed to contribute to the likelihood of such extreme weather events, not only in the Pacific but potentially in the Gulf of Mexico as well, where many storms that affect the United States intensify.

“Climate change is exacerbating the severity of the most intense storms,” notes Michael Wehner, a leading author of the study and a climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkley National Lab. This trend is not indicative of a higher number of storms but rather an increase in the intensity of major hurricanes, fueled by warmer ocean temperatures.

Adjusting the Hurricane Scale

Historically, there have been periodic suggestions to extend the hurricane category scale, especially following Typhoon Haiyan’s extraordinary 195 mph winds in 2013. Yet, the study posits that such extreme events are becoming less isolated due to climate change.

The debate around introducing a Category 6 reflects broader concerns about how we communicate and understand the risks associated with increasingly powerful tropical storms. While Pacific storms have historically achieved higher intensities due to less land interaction and larger expanses for development, the study suggests that warming conditions may also elevate the potential for such intense storms in the Atlantic.

Experts like MIT’s Kerry Emanuel acknowledge the rationale behind adjusting the scale but note the practical challenges, given that the most significant hurricane damage often results from water rather than wind. The National Hurricane Center, emphasizing the diverse hazards posed by storms—including storm surge, rainfall, and tornadoes—suggests that the current Category 5 adequately denotes “catastrophic damage” potential from wind, questioning the necessity of a new category.

At WheelHouse IT, we closely monitor these developments and the broader implications of climate change on hurricane severity. Our focus remains on ensuring that businesses and communities are prepared for the evolving nature of these threats. As discussions about a Category 6 continue, it underscores the importance of comprehensive disaster preparedness plans that account for all aspects of these devastating natural phenomena.

In conclusion, while the debate over a Category 6 hurricane rages on, the underlying message is clear: the world is changing, and our strategies for prediction, preparation, and protection must evolve accordingly. WheelHouse IT remains committed to providing the insights and support needed to navigate these challenges, ensuring our clients and communities are resilient in the face of nature’s most formidable forces.

Enhanced Hurricane Forecasting Tools to Now Cover Inland Risks, Aiming for Greater Preparedness

Forecasting Tools

This year, the National Hurricane Center plans to significantly enhance its renowned “cone of uncertainty” forecasting tools, which play a pivotal role in predicting the path and intensity of tropical storms. This update will extend its reach to encompass inland regions, acknowledging the often-overlooked fact that wind and flood damage can pose even greater threats away from the shorelines.

The Miami-based center announced via X (formerly Twitter) that it plans to release this innovative, experimental forecasting tool by August 15. This timing is strategic, aiming to fortify preparations ahead of the hurricane season’s climax, which traditionally spans from June 1.

The center elaborated, “This experimental graphic is designed to more effectively communicate the risk of wind hazards inland, in addition to those along the coast.”

Historically, the cone has visualized the anticipated trajectory of hurricanes and tropical storms, with a primary focus on coastal impacts like wind and storm surge. However, forecasters have consistently emphasized the importance of not fixating solely on the cone’s center line. The devastating effects of heavy rainfall and strong winds can extend far into the interior, as tragically demonstrated by Hurricane Ian in 2022, which resulted in 149 fatalities in Florida.

Why Update the Forecasting Tools?

The objective behind the cone’s expansion is to heighten awareness among inland populations about the potential dangers they face, even if they reside far from the coastline. Jamie Rhome, the hurricane center’s deputy director, stated that the updated cone will incorporate colors to delineate threat levels more comprehensively. Rhome’s message is clear: “If you find yourself within these highlighted areas, you are at risk.”

Experts link the aggravating impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, to the increasing intensity and frequency of severe hurricanes. This trend exacerbates the potential for rapid storm intensification, leading to heightened flood risks and more forceful storm surges against coastal areas.

The aftermath of Hurricane Ian starkly illustrated these dangers as it ravaged the Fort Myers region, causing unprecedented damage and loss of life, before inflicting widespread rain and wind damage across a large portion of Florida, including areas around Orlando and beyond.

Ian’s journey through the state unleashed between 10 to 20 inches of rainfall across central Florida, causing significant flooding and damage far from the coast. The hurricane’s impact was particularly severe near rivers, as exemplified in DeSoto County, where the Peace River’s flooding prompted urgent evacuation orders from Fire Chief Chad Jorgensen due to its unpredictability and danger.

As the hurricane season approaches, with Alberto named the first storm of 2024, it’s a reminder of the previous year’s activity, which saw 20 named storms. Among these, only Hurricane Idalia made landfall in the U.S., highlighting the unpredictable nature of these events and the importance of preparedness, especially for inland communities.

Tips for Preparing Your Business for Hurricane Season:

  1. Comprehensive Planning: Develop a robust business continuity plan that includes evacuation routes, communication strategies, and emergency contacts.
  2. Data Protection: Ensure that all critical business data is backed up remotely or in a cloud-based service to prevent loss.
  3. Physical Preparations: Secure your premises by installing storm shutters, reinforcing doors, and moving valuable equipment to safer locations.
  4. Emergency Supplies: Maintain a stockpile of essential supplies, including water, non-perishable food, flashlights, and first-aid kits.
  5. Insurance Review: Regularly review your insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage for storm-related damages.
  6. Employee Training: Conduct regular training sessions with your staff to ensure everyone knows what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.

By adopting these practices, businesses can mitigate the risks posed by hurricanes and ensure a quicker recovery in their aftermath.

Prepare your business for hurricane season with WheelHouse IT! Implement our tips for comprehensive planning, data protection, physical preparations, emergency supplies, insurance review, and employee training. Together, let’s ensure your business is ready to weather any storm and recover swiftly afterward.