As Texas’s Gulf Coast begins the difficult task of recovering from Hurricane Harvey, the latest updates from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that the remainder of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be more active than previously expected. With multiple ships in the Gulf of Mexico diverted ahead of Hurricane Harvey, the risk of bad weather offshore is far greater than the chances of another major storm making landfall, and offshore workers in the cruise, oil and gas, and shipping industries must be prepared to act quickly when the forecast calls for potentially life-threatening conditions.
Remainder of 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Likely to See “Above Normal” Storm Activity
The NOAA released its revised projections on August 9, approximately three weeks prior to Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas. According to the NOAA’s media release, there is now a 60-percent chance that we will see an “above normal” level of storm activity during the remainder of the season. This is an increase from the initial 45-percent projection the NOAA published in May, and a figure that takes into account the six named storms that formed prior to August 9. The NOAA is now forecasting:
- 14 to 19 named storms (increased from NOAA’s projection of 11 to 17 named storms in May)
- 5 to 9 hurricanes (these numbers are unchanged from May)
- 2 to 5 major hurricanes (a slight increase from the NOAA’s May forecast of 2 to 4)
According to the NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, the revised projections reflect, “wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop [that] are very conducive to an above-normal season.” With an average of 12 named storms between June 1 and November 30, and with the second half of the hurricane season typically seeing more activity than the first, the six named storms through August 9 (and nine to date, including Hurricane Harvey) strongly suggest that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will produce an unusually-high number of storms before it is over.
Storm Risks for Offshore Workers
For offshore workers in the Gulf of Mexico, tropical storms and hurricanes present obvious risks that cannot be ignored. Employers in the cruise, oil and gas, and shipping industries must heed forecasters’ warnings, and they must make their employees’ safety their top priority. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and in some cases the warnings come too late. In either scenario, it is offshore workers and their families who have the most to lose when storms threaten ships, rigs and platforms offshore, and it is critical that those who suffer losses stand up for their right to just compensation.
Contact the Houston Maritime Lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard LLP
Morrow & Sheppard LLP is a Houston maritime injury law firm that represents offshore workers and their families in claims for financial compensation. If you have been injured or lost a loved one, please call (800) 489-2216 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer for free today.