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Providence Named Top 10 Most Vulnerable Hurricane City in US

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


A new prediction model puts Providence in the Top 10 US cities most likely to be hit by a hurricane this season.

Providence has been named one of the 10 cities most likely to be hit by a hurricane this year, according to a brand-new assessment released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA's list, compiled by The Weather Channel’s senior meteorologist Stu Ostro and Hurricane specialist Michael Lowry, says cities were chosen based on storm surge evaluations, evacuation times, population and the number of years since a location was last hit.

Providence was named to the number 10 spot on the list for 2013, and is the only New England city on the list. The rest of list is as follows;

1. Tampa, FL
2. Naples, FL
3. Jacksonville, FL
4. Honolulu, HI
5. Houston, TX
6. Savannah, GA
7. Mobile, AL
8. Charleston, SC
9. Key West, FL

GoLocal Meteorologist John Ghiorse on the hurricane season

"[The year] 2012 was one of the most active hurricane seasons on record," said GoLocal Meteorologist John Ghiorse, citing 19 "named" storms of which 10 became hurricanes. "Once again nearly all of the major hurricane season prediction entities are calling for a similar season this year," he said. "And, to boot, most of them are calling for a high probability of one or more of them hitting somewhere along the East Coast of the United States. The big question, of course, continues to be, 'Where?'"

Typically, because of the nature of uncertainty in weather forecasting and hurricane forecasting in particular, "that question has no definitive answer," Ghiorse said.

In its assessment, The Weather Channel described Providence (and Rhode Island): "Hurricane Bob in 1991 was the last hurricane to make a direct hit on Providence. It was one of the costliest hurricanes in New England history, causing $1.5 billion in damage. Hurricane Bob made two landfalls in Rhode Island, first on Block Island and then in Newport. Since Hurricane Bob hit, Providence's population has increased 5 percent."

The Weather Channel broke down the following numbers regarding Providence: 

Population (2010) - 178,042
Evacuation Time (if Cat. 5 hit) - 6 hours
Storm Surge Losses (per capita) - $3,463.63
Years Overdue - 21 years

Tropical Meteorology Project: Major hurricane landfalls in US

Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project run by Philip Klotzbach and William Gray, also sees the rising odds for Providence this year: “The tropical Atlantic remains very warm, and we do not anticipate development of a significant El Niño. Given the above-average forecast, we are calling for an above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall.”

The Tropical Meteorology Project puts RI's odds below neighboring New England states: Rhode Island has a 10% chance of a hurricane landfall, while both Massachusetts and Connecticut are tabbed at 12%. Florida tops the list with a whopping 71% chance. "According to that forecast, Florida Home Depots, Lowe’s and 7-11s should stock up on supplies right now," said Ghiorse.

NOAA Climate Prediction Center: Active hurricane season

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has also recently announced that the East Coast is looking at an “active” hurricane season this year, confirming an anticipated 13 to 20 storms this year with the possibility of up to six potentially being ranked category 3, 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale. The Eastern Pacific is expected to experience a below-to-normal hurricane season receiving up to a maximum of four potential major hurricanes, according to the NOAA.

"In the end, we are dealing with probabilities and that is no different than any other year," Ghiorse said. "A note of interest and perhaps caution … while having more storms form in a season increases the odds of one of them hitting New England, past records show that our most catastrophic storms occurred in so-called 'below normal' years." Ghiorse pointed out that there were only 8 storms in 1938 when we experienced our most destructive and devastating hurricane. In 1954, Carol and Edna hit New England in a season when there were 11 storms. And there were only 8 storms in 1991 when Bob blasted through Southeastern New England.


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