2021 hurricane season begins

  • Published
  • 96th Weather Squadron
The 2020 hurricane season proved historic for the Atlantic Basin and Gulf Coast with several significant impacts and near misses throughout the region.

There were a record-breaking 30 named storms, 14 of which became hurricanes and six which were major hurricanes.  Of those storms, six impacted operations here.  The 96th Weather Squadron was there to interpret data and provide recommendations to Team Eglin’s leaders.

“Team Eglin puts a heavy focus on being prepared for hurricane season,” said Lt. Col. Glen DeMars, 96th WS commander.  “For our squadron, this requires a full team effort to arm the base with actionable weather intelligence.” 

The 2021 tropical forecast is for another above average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

An average hurricane season typically produces 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.  This year, National Hurricane Center predicts 13 to 20 named storms in the Atlantic Basin and forecasts six to 10 to become hurricanes and three to five to become potential category three or higher major hurricanes.

Eglin personnel are encouraged to prepare for another active hurricane season.  It is also important to remember it only takes one storm with the right path or intensity to cause heavy impacts to the area and its personnel.  It is important to be ready by having plans and supplies in order.

With an above average Atlantic Basin hurricane season expected, the National Hurricane Center took steps to better prepare for this season. The Center started Hurricane Bulletin Outlooks May 15, two weeks prior to the official start of hurricane season.    

The 96th WS monitors the Atlantic Basin and Gulf of Mexico for any possible tropical storm development that could potentially affect the Gulf Coast.  This massive area spans more than 41 million square miles.  They monitor threats as far east as the African Cape Verde Islands.  Once a potential threat is within 800 nautical miles of Eglin, or forms within that area, the weather team begins providing specific details and updates to Eglin’s leaders. 

“Our team relies on timely communication and collaboration with base and national agencies to ensure Team Eglin receives the most up-to-date information on tropical storms and their impacts,” said DeMars.  

Once a storm forecast affects Eglin, the squadron issues tropical updates every six hours to base leaders and public affairs forums.  The squadron also provides individualized support to ground and flying units with embedded forecasters.  This integrated support is key to ensuring units are able to safeguard operations and personnel in a timely manner.  This multifaceted support and information enables Team Eglin leaders to make critical decisions regarding the appropriate hurricane condition level, as well as when to issue aircraft and personnel evacuation orders.  

Not only does the 96th WS ready the base leading up to hurricane events, they also play a key role in installation recovery.  The squadron has two teams prepared to shelter-in-place during a hurricane.  Each team has mobile weather equipment.  Once given the “All Clear”, they assemble the equipment and use it to re-establish local weather operations.  This process enables the team to provide valuable weather data to help return the airfield and installation to operational status, allowing critical recovery operations.

It is important for the base community to ensure they have hurricane supplies ready and evacuation plans in place.  Eglin personnel should watch for updates from the 96th WS and installation leaders and be prepared to take action, if necessary.

For more information, visit Eglin’s hurricane information page.