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Very Late August & September Hurricane Risk Forecast For Western & Central Mass

I wanted to give you an update on the hurricane season and how Western and Central Mass could be affected over the next month or so. Right now, activity is gradually beginning to ramp up with a system now about to make landfall near south Texas and the potential for additional development later next week and next weekend in both the Gulf of Mexico and across the central and eastern Tropical Atlantic. This Is What I’m Thinking For The Next Month Or So In Terms Of Tropical Storm & Hurricane Activity – We are very likely to see a continued increase in the organization of tropical disturbances pushing off of Africa with more and more of these systems becoming tropical storms and then hurricanes. The question now is how many more storms could there be and where could they go. Between now and October 31, I think that we’ll probably see 10 more named tropical storms with 5 of those storms becoming hurricanes and 2 of those hurricanes becoming major hurricanes. As for a potential tropical storm/hurricane threat to Western and Central Mass – It appears that a large Bermuda High pressure system will probably set up leading to a potential path for any westward moving tropical systems to head towards the East Coast of the United States. I still think that the entire East Coast of the United States, including all of New England, is in a very high threat area for a potential tropical storm/hurricane impact during the month of September. This is something that I’ve mentioned quite a bit previously earlier this year and I have no changes to that thinking. We are very long overdue for a significant hurricane impact in Southern New England and I've studied a lot of what may happen with a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane direct impact similar to the 1938 Hurricane or Hurricane Carol of 1954 and the outcome keeps me awake at night. Since the big New England hurricane years from the late 1930s to the late 1950s, the tree growth and tree cover across Southern New England is much, much denser than what it was like 60 to 80 years ago. Also, our electrical and telecommunications infrastructure is also much denser as well. A hurricane with sustained winds of 100 to 120 mph with higher gusts will lead to the downing of tens of millions of trees across Southern New England (there are 1.5 billion trees in Mass, 857 million trees in Connecticut and 180 million trees in Rhode Island based on US Forest Service data). This will, in turn, lead to thousands, if not millions of power, telephone and cable lines to be brought down leading to upwards of at least 80 percent of the households and businesses across Southern New England to be without power or communications for weeks. Some of the smaller towns in the Worcester Hills may end up without power for months. Some facts about the 1938 Hurricane that you may not know – The town of Ware was completely cut off due to massive flooding and tree damage; 16,000 trees were estimated to be blown down in Springfield; Ferris wheels at the Big-E were blown down; Major building and tree damage occurred in Worcester with every tree blown down on some blocks of the city. Additionally, there are going to be an overwhelming number of homes that will suffer significant damage from either roofs being partially or completely blown off or trees being blown over into the homes leading to emergency services being overwhelmed with home rescues, gas lines being ruptured and delayed access due to downed trees and power lines. Research has been done that shows a hurricane of Category 2 or 3 strength that directly impacts Southern New England would end up being one of the costliest hurricanes on record with losses of 75 billion to 100 billion dollars. Major devastating and destructive hurricanes on the level that you would see on the Gulf Coast, Florida or the Caribbean can and have occurred in Southern New England. Storms such as Isias, Irene, Gloria and even Sandy are just infants compared to the destruction of a hurricane such as the 1635 Colonial Hurricane, the 1938 Hurricane, the 1944 Hurricane or a Hurricane Carol would inflict. This is not hyperbole or fear mongering, these are actual facts based on what has occurred in the past in terms of hurricane impacts in Southern New England and then taking in account what our infrastructure now looks like. I know this saying gets old, but unfortunately, it's not a matter of if, but when in regards to a significant hurricane impact in Southern New England. Rest assured though – I am going to do everything in my weather forecasting power to try to warn you well ahead of time should a tropical storm or hurricane approach our area over the next month or so.

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