Meteorologist Focuses on Hurricane Climate, Forecasting Changes in Chamber Virtual Meeting

provided to Santiva Chronicle

Allyson Rae addressed specific islander concerns during her online hurricane preparation presentation

The National Hurricane Center is not seeing a change in number or intensity of tropical storms with climate changes, but the amount of water they drop has increased, NBC2 chief meteorologist Allyson Rae told members tuned into the June 10 Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce virtual business luncheon. Participants were invited to “bring their own lunch” to the meeting and ask questions via the Zoom chat function.

“Storms are moving 10 percent slower than they were [in 1950], which means more rain is falling on places,” said Rae, who worked with the NBC2 and ABC7 weather team from 2010 to 2014 and returned in 2017 after three years with the Washington, D.C., affiliate WUSA9. “Because of climate change, the warmer air can hold more water.”

Although hurricanes are measured by their wind power, in today’s climate, it’s the water – rain and storm surge – that has the more serious impact, especially to barrier islands, said Rae. She urged viewers to not compare upcoming hurricane experiences with past storms, because every storm and every year is different. “This is what we’re dealing with right now, this could impact us this year if not next year,” she said.

The good news about this year, which forecasters are predicting as heavy on tropical storm activity, are the improvements in predicting storm surge, minimizing tracking errors, and pinpointing landfall. “The cone that you see is 30 percent smaller than it was just a few years ago,” Rae said.

The meteorologist explained the differences between American and European projection models, advising that taking “one model as gospel is a bad idea. Take the average…. Don’t follow one ever, look at the trend.” Rae also touched on storm preparation and how to access tools that would help in readiness well before storms approach, including

“Thanks for being so flexible in helping us organize this so quickly,” John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer, told Rae. “You’ve provided some valuable information in an easy-to-understand manner.”

Lai also thanked chamber members who “attended” the virtual lunch meeting, which will remain the format in the foreseeable future. “While this is not our preferred method, we thank you for joining us as it will be a few months before we meet in person.”

The chamber CEO also introduced the new Board of Directors Chair Brian Kautz, general manager of The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, and recognized new board members and 2020 winners of the chamber annual awards. Kautz presided over the meeting for the first time and thanked outgoing chair Mary Bondurant.

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