Like clockwork, around June, hurricane-themed public service announcements start filling commercial breaks on TV and radio and appearing on highway signs. It’s time to stockpile water, canned food and batteries. It’s also time to use up the frozen food in the freezer to avoid wasting it if a storm knocks out power.
But the relative calm of this hurricane season is no cause for complacency in communities still reeling from the record-setting storms that pummeled south Louisiana two years ago. In a community where routines and rituals are shaped by the rhythms of hurricane season, the pause has reminded people of how capricious nature can be.
A persistent La Nina has thwarted the development of strong upper-level winds that fuel tropical storms. Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures have also fueled the development of numerous tropical systems in the Atlantic. Weak trade winds and a developing West African monsoon have allowed tropical cyclones to cook over warm water. But a strong area of high pressure over the Atlantic has blocked any of these systems from reaching the Gulf Coast.
The lack of activity has enabled the governor’s office to catch up on assisting parishes with hurricane recovery efforts dating back to Hurricane Rita in 2005, said Casey Tingle, the director of the state’s Office for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The break in the weather has also given the agency the opportunity to review and enhance its role in helping local governments with evacuation decisions and planning, he said.