07 • 06 • 2022
What Can we Expect from the 2022 Hurricane Season?
Hurricane Agatha, one of the first storms of the 2022 hurricane season, made history as the strongest hurricane ever recorded to come ashore in the Eastern Pacific—dumping 10 inches of rain in a 24-hour period triggering devastating floods and landslides in southern Mexico. While the hurricane season is underway for both the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center predicts that there will be a 65% greater chance of more hurricanes in the Atlantic in 2022.
Due to the worsening effects of climate change, we can only expect to see more frequent and severe hurricanes. In fact, scientists recently reported that hurricanes could more than double by 2050 in nearly all regions of the world due to climate change. The fact that hurricanes are responsible for more monetary losses than any other natural disaster necessitates measures that are preventative rather than reactionary. Just from 1980 to 2021 the total approximate cost of damages from weather and climate disasters in the U.S. is $2.155 trillion. In 2021, the total cost of hurricane damages totaled $145 billion, making it the third most costly year on record behind 2017 and 2005.
While hurricanes are extremely costly, it is imperative to highlight that the burdens of these increasing devastating natural disasters will impact some of the world's most vulnerable regions. In September of 2018, Hurricane Florence ravaged disadvantaged and BIPOC communities, not to mention the fact that they were continuing to try to rebuild, still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Matthew two years prior. The path of these extreme weather events does not affect everyone equally, as we have seen in this era of climate change that continues to exacerbate the damages caused by natural disasters in disadvantaged and BIPOC communities.
Despite the daunting projections for the 2022 hurricane season, Surfrider is working at the federal level to pass legislation that will help coastal communities proactively respond to extreme weather and hurricanes. For example, we are supporting legislation that will establish National Disaster Safety Board that will provide support to communities impacted by frequent extreme weather events. We are also advocating for legislation that will help ‘nature protect nature’ by preserving and acquiring coastal habitats such as estuaries and lagoons—these preserved areas will help buttress communities from sea level rise and extreme weather events.
Outside of working on legislation, Surfrider continues to work with local communities around the country to proactively plan for sea level rise and conduct coastal and blue carbon restoration and preservation projects. Under Surfrider’s Coast and Climate Initiative we have 53 active campaigns that will help protect our coastal communities from climate change threats and poorly planned coastal development. Specifically for hurricane and extreme weather responses, we put together some resources such as toolkit that helps our chapters respond following a catastrophic event.
Congress and the Biden Administration must prioritize hurricane preparedness through legislation. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every dollar invested in preparedness and resiliency saves us four dollars in costs down the road. We owe it to American taxpayers and our valuable coastlines to make a conscious decision to proactively planning ahead—this logic inevitably protects our natural landscapes, coastal economy, and our local communities.