By Connor Beach
With more than a month left to go, an above average number of major hurricanes have already made landfall during this year’s hurricane season, and both businesses and agencies across the Town of Huntington have taken notice.
The stronger hurricane season can be attributed to higher sea surface temperatures and lower wind shear, according to Professor Brian Colle of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
“Water temperatures are higher in the Atlantic,” Colle said. “Hurricanes don’t like when wind speeds increase with height. This [hurricane] season, the wind shear was weaker because we just got out of El Nino.”
He added that preliminary forecasts for summer 2018 show that another above average hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, is to be expected.
Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall in October 2012, has had local business owners preparing for the worst ever since.
Some, like Jennifer Gould, manager of the West Shore Marina in Huntington Harbor, said Huntington has not experienced any storms near that ferocity this hurricane season. “Sandy was the worst for us,” she said. “We are in a very protected area in the harbor; our main issue is the tidal surge.”
On a smaller scale, Gould said marina employees remove items from the floor and go out on the water to check on the boats.
“No boats were damaged in the water during Sandy, but boats on the land were blown over,” Gould said. “We batten down the hatches and then we pray.”
There was significant flooding in Huntington village during a heavy rain storm in August that affected several businesses near Huntington Harbor, including Hi Hook Bait and Tackle on New York Avenue.
One of the major problems caused by extreme weather is power outages, and the VP of Transmission and Distribution for PSEG Long Island John O’Connell said the power company has taken several steps since Sandy to increase the resilience of the network to hold up against weather and hurricanes.
“When bad weather comes there will be outages, and we need good emergency response to restore power,” O’Connell said.
PSEG Long Island has been undertaking efforts to harden the company’s infrastructure through a FEMA grant that was issued in 2014. The hardening efforts include replacing older telephone poles with new stronger ones, and increasing the durability of the hardware on top of the pole, according to O’Connell.
“We have a robust emergency response plan. We can test the emergency response process during medium sized wind storms and thunderstorms,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell said that communication with local elected officials is an important part of the emergency response plan. The Town of Huntington has also taken efforts to increase communication during hurricanes by creating the emergency notification system, Huntington Alert, which allows residents and businesses to receive information from the town during emergencies.