Climatologists across the country are fixing their eyes on the horizon as hurricane season commences. One of those weather experts sees something personal in that particular view.
Corey Davis was two years old in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit his home in North Carolina. That tropical cyclone caused over $8 billion in damages and almost annihilated entire islands.
“That’s one of the main reasons why I pursued meteorology — I wanted to know more about these storms,” he explained.
Residents of North Carolina may not know Davis even though his work affects the weather reports that they often receive. He currently serves the entire state as its deputy chief climatologist.
Atmospheric scientists like Davis use prior knowledge of storm systems to predict distant weather patterns. Those predictions provide a glimpse of possible outcomes tied to seasonal squalls.
“It’s kind of like a balancing scale,” offered Davis when discussing present factors that may force hurricanes to foment.
One end of that scale is apparently raging with strong trade winds that can tear storms apart. Moisture from monsoons in West Africa has saturated the other end and created conditions for cyclones.
Fewer storms will find traction if the scale tips toward those trade winds according to Davis. His take on whether that will happen is partially based on data produced by the National Hurricane Center.
“They’re giving [this season] a 40-percent chance of being near-normal, but also a 30-percent chance of being above-normal” he echoed.
Davis also stressed that a single storm can make those numbers seem meaningless to anyone submerged by it. Just six inches of rainfall can render floods that are deadly according to NHC.
That type of flooding has been identified by Davis as a clear and present threat to people who happen to live in high places. His analysis suggests that communities far from the coast can still suffer.
“Anywhere along a river […] can be affected by these storms when they’re dropping that much rainfall,” he emphasized
Downpours to that degree were widespread during the previous hurricane season. Storms transpiring then were labeled as average by NHC even though they caused over $118 billion in gross damages.
The nightmare of forced homelessness was also lived last year by several thousand hurricane survivors. Having a plan for a hasty retreat due to surging seas or downed trees is recommended by Davis.
“Be prepared just in case you do have to face that scenario,” he advised.