GICA, Agencies To Hold Hurricane Season Planning Session May 25

The Gulf Coast Inland Waterways Joint Hurricane Team (JHT), made up of leaders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, National Weather Service and commercial maritime operators, will meet for its annual pre-hurricane season planning session May 25. As in 2020, the JHT planning session this year will be held virtually via GoToWebinar.

Registration details are available on the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association (GICA) website, Click the “News & Events” tab for more information.

GICA coordinates the annual meeting, during which waterway stakeholders gather to review the Gulf Coast Inland Waterways Joint Hurricane Response Protocol, a plan of action for how industry and local, state and federal agencies can prepare for tropical storms and reconstitute waterways after storms pass.

The meeting will open with a welcome from GICA President Jim Stark and remarks from Capt. Blake Welborn from the Eighth Coast Guard District. The two-hour event, which begins at 9 a.m., will then feature a hurricane season outlook from Lauren Nash with the National Weather Service.

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Attendees will then review the Joint Hurricane Protocol and hear reports from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the Eighth Coast Guard District’s waterways management and bridge operations teams; the Mobile, New Orleans and Galveston Engineer districts; and Coast Guard sectors, marine safety units and vessel traffic services from the Gulf Coast.

The 2021 JHT planning session will reflect on a historic 2020 Atlantic hurricane season that saw eight storms make landfall on the Gulf Coast, including major hurricanes Laura and Zeta and category two storms Sally and Delta.

NOAA will announce its 2021 hurricane season forecast on May 20, although the agency has already noted that, going forward, it will consider “average” seasons to denote more tropical storms. Colorado State University, which also releases an annual hurricane season forecast, has said it anticipates 17 tropical systems during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, eight named storms and four major hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season traditionally begins June 1 and goes through the end of November. Weather forecasters and policymakers of late have discussed moving the start of the season into May to reflect the frequency of pre-June storms.