Florida State University experts discuss 2022 hurricane season

"It only takes one storm to have a devastating impact."

Tarah Jean
Tallahassee Democrat

The time of year Floridians have come to dread is approaching: hurricane season.

A media briefing on Monday afternoon via Zoom consisted of Florida State University experts discussing the 2022 hurricane season, which will start on June 1.

“The forecasts that have been released so far all agree that an above active season is predicted,” said Allison Wing, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science.

Wing studies hurricanes, as well as other types of tropical systems, thunderstorms and climate. She was also named to Popular Science’s Brilliant 10 list of early career scientists conducting groundbreaking research in their fields in 2021.

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Allison Wing, assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at Florida State University.

There have been several active seasons in a row with 21 storms in 2021 and 31 storms in 2020. This year’s forecast calls for between seven and nine hurricane-level storms.

“This could be something like last year where there were a lot of storms, or it could be really hyperactive or something less than that but still above normal,” Wing said.

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Charles Nyce, an associate professor of risk management and Insurance and associate director of the Center for Risk Management Education and Research, focuses his research on how to pay for natural disasters once they occur.

“From an insurance perspective, I would encourage people to check their policy limits,” Nyce said. “Construction costs are still really high in the state.”

“If you bought a policy a few years ago where you're only getting a 2,000 square-foot house and you think it's going to cost $100 a square foot to fix it, that's not the case anymore. It's going to cost a lot more than that, so make sure your policy limits are high enough to cover how much damage you could potentially have.”

Nyce also provided tips about insurance premiums for homeowners.

"To alter the premiums that you as a household are paying, you actually need to harden your home," Nyce said. "The bang for your buck that you're going to see is the actual physical hardening of your home that'll make the biggest difference in your premiums."

The FSU faculty members who contributed to the briefing are leaders in the study of hurricanes and the effects of these destructive storms. Their scholarship has led to research on infrastructure challenges, evacuation routes, sustainable tools and mental health challenges for those affected by hurricanes, according to the university.

Among the FSU experts was Eren Ozguven, an associate professor in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the director of the Resilient Infrastructure and Disaster Response Center. His research focuses on the relationships among infrastructure networks in Florida, such as roadways and emergency transportation operations, and how they contribute to an area's ability to be prepared for disasters, including hurricanes.

"We need to think about our vulnerable populations, whether they are in urban and rural areas, whether they are living in coastal or inland, whether they are older and whether they are with disabilities or other vulnerabilities," Ozguyen said. "We need to have plans that can adapt to these changes, especially on the infrastructure side of things."

Eren Ozguven, associate professor in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and director of the Resilient Infrastructure and Disaster Response Center.

Marcia Mardis, a professor in the College of Communication and Information and former public librarian, was also a part of the briefing. In the wake of Hurricane Michael, Mardis received a National Science Foundation grant to collaborate with librarians and community members to establish processes to ensure that rural public libraries can serve as resiliency hubs or support centers for residents during a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Mardis is working in Calhoun County in great depth along with other collaborators, including representatives from the FSU College of Medicine and the School of Information at the College of Communication and Information. They are all doing some mapping to figure out where people go in a disaster, which will help to better plan shelters.

“Regardless of how many hurricanes we expect,” Wing said, “we always should prepare the same way because as we know, all too well, it only takes one storm to have a devastating impact.”

Contact Tarah Jean at tjean@tallahassee.com or follow her on twitter @tarahjean_.