Tropical Storm Alex, Droughts, and Wildfires Bring Severe Weather to Many Across the US


Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, brought torrential rains and damaging winds to South Florida, Cuba, and Bermuda from Friday, June 3 through Monday, June 6, has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone located approximately 325 miles northeast of Bermuda moving east/northeast at 31 miles per hour (mph) with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph as of 5:00pm AST, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) final public advisory report. There are currently no hazards affecting land, per NHC officials.

Winds of 40 mph were below the threshold for the system to be classified as a tropical storm when it impacted South Florida over the weekend. However, the high volume of rain caused many disruptions throughout Miami-Dade County, including 310 million gallons of wastewater and rainwater flowing into the County treatment plant, which “inundated the system” according to Jennifer Messemer, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department. The storm’s heavy rains and winds produced significant road flooding and unsafe conditions in many areas of southern Florida on Saturday, June 4. According to the NOAA Weather Prediction Center’s (WPC’s) latest Storm Summary, several areas across Southern Florida sustained double-digit rainfall totals, including nearly 15 inches in Hollywood and Margate, nearly 13 inches in Biscayne Park, and approximately 11 inches in Miami and Coral Gables. While there have been no reports of impacts to human life in the United States (US), the Associated Press (AP) reports that Alex was the direct cause of three deaths in Cuba.

Tropical Storm Alex was officially named after strengthening off Florida’s east coast on Sunday, June 5 at 2:00am EDT.According to NPR, Tropical Storm Alex formed partially from the remnants of Hurricane Agatha, a severe storm that hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast last week. Agatha was the strongest storm to make landfall in Mexico this early in the Pacific Hurricane Season and only the third in Mexico’s history in the month of May. Hurricane Agatha resulted in nine fatalities and four people are currently missing as a result of the storm.

Twitter: NWS Miami


While the Southeast deals with heavy rainfall, the West and Southwest regions of the US are still experiencing the worst drought since 800 A.D. According to a study using tree ring data conducted by climate scientists at the University of California, for the past 22 years,the City of Los Angeles, has experienced its driest period in at least 1,200 years, which is how far back the data goes. This same study also confirmed that high temperatures, combined with low precipitation levels, are the driving forces behind this historic drought. 

Higher air temperatures, caused in part by the amounts of greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere, make drought conditions worse by pulling more water out of things like soil and vegetation. The latest drought map produced by NOAA’s National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), shows that 28 states are currently experiencing moderate or worse drought conditions with nine states, including California, Texas, Nevada, and New Mexico experiencing Exceptional Drought conditions. According to NOAA’s US Spring Outlook, the drought conditions in most of the West, Southwest, and Great Plains will continue or worsen. Effective June 1, 2022, more than six million Southern California residents have been prohibited to only use outdoor water once per week by the strictest ever water conservation rules in state history.

Drought conditions have impacted Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two primary reservoirs for the Colorado River, as they have reached their lowest levels on record. The federal government announced in early May that it will delay the release of water from one major reservoir in order to keep more water in Lake Powell. This decision will, along with water conservation efforts, also attempt to protect the Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to supply electricity for about 5.8 million residents. In an effort to further protect the water levels in Lake Powell, additional water will be released over the next year from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir located mostly in Wyoming; however, water levels in this reservoir are also feeling the effects from nearly two decades of drought conditions in the area.


Rising temperatures and drier conditions also increase wildfire risk. As of June 7, 2022, wildland firefighters continue to try and contain eight uncontained large fires in New Mexico, Alaska, Arizona, and Colorado. Of those eight fires, five are located in New Mexico. The Hermits Peak Fire located 30.4 miles East of Sante Fe has become the largest wildfire in recent New Mexico history. Additionally, the Black Fire, located in the Gila National Forest about 30 miles North of Santa Clara, New Mexico, which was started by human causes and discovered on May 14, 2022, officially became the third-largest wildfire in New Mexico history on May 25, 2022. 

Protect Yourself and Your Community: US Fire Administration

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages individuals to prepare and plan for wildfires. As these events can develop rapidly, it is never too soon to prepare for a potential fire incident. Individuals should follow the guidance of state and local authorities. 

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation. Visit Disaster Discourse for the latest information.


  • Remember, during a storm, it is important to follow the directions of your state and local officials. provides information on how to prepare for a storm and how to keep you and your family safe.
  • Understanding the meaning of hurricane maps – a NY Times Opinion Piece: Those Hurricane Maps Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean
  • provides information on how to prepare for wildfires and how to keep you and your family safe, including evacuation planning, preparing a go-bag, and staying up-to-date on warnings and notices.
  • FEMA America’s PrepareAthon: How to Prepare for a Wildfire.
  • The Los Angeles Times regularly updates tracking of California Wildfires: California Wildfires Map.
  • The National Fire Protection Association provides wildfire preparedness tips: link.
  • Marin County provides a wildfire evacuation checklist: link.
  • FEMA provides an informational video about how to be prepared for wildfires: link. 

Above-Normal Atlantic Hurricane Season Anticipated in 2022, Creating Challenges for Emergency Management Leaders and Civilians Alike


On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their 2022 Atlantic hurricane season outlook. Forecasting an above average season, the May estimate calls for 14 to 21 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes. This is higher than the regular season average of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Although the historical peak of hurricane season is still a few months away, recent years have shown more early storm formations, something forecasters and emergency managers will be on the lookout for in the coming weeks.


The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecast the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season will feature above-average hurricane activity for the seventh consecutive year. The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and lasts until November 30, with NOAA predicting a 65 percent risk of an above-average season, with only a 25percent chance for a near-normal, and a 10 percent option for a below-normal season. There are 14 to 21 named storms anticipated for the season, with winds reaching 39 miles per hour (mph) or higher. Six to 10 of these storms could likely become hurricanes, with three to six predicted to become major hurricanes as either Category 3, Category 4, or Category 5. These storms can reach wind speeds of 111 mph or higher, and NOAA provided the storm range with a confidence rate of 70 percent. The above-average activity is attributed to climate factors such as La Niña, which consists of warmer sea surface temperatures across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. 

The Associated Press quoted NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. who noted that the 2022 season “is going to be similar to last year and given that you need only one bad storm to dramatically affect your life, if you fail to plan around this outlook, you’re planning to fail.”.

NOAA: 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook


NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center and NOAA’s CPC additionally provided a 2022 hurricane season outlook for the Central Pacific Ocean, indicating a 60 percent chance for below-normal tropical cyclone activity throughout the season. The forecast additionally noted a 30 percent chance for near-normal activity, with a 10 percent chance for an above-normal season. NOAA anticipates between two to four tropical cyclones will affect the Central Pacific hurricane region, which includes tropical depressions, named storms, and hurricanes. NOAA Lead Seasonal Hurricane Forecaster Matthew Rosencrans noted the ongoing effects of La Niña are likely to create powerful vertical wind shear, “making it more difficult for hurricanes to develop or move into the Central Pacific Ocean.”

President Joe Biden cautioned “another tough hurricane season” was coming in a federal briefing on May 18, according to The Associated Press, warning that the storms were growing “more extreme every season.” National Hurricane Center (NHC) Director Kenneth Graham was also quoted, noting that the United States (US) has had more Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes make landfall from the period of 2017 to 2021 than the entirety of 1963 to 2016.

Recently, forecasters and emergency managers met in Orlando, Florida for the 2022 National Hurricane Conference and in West Palm Beach, Florida for the 2022 Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference. Emergency management practitioners, vendors, and volunteers met for trainings and workshops to discuss best practices and innovative approaches to moving our profession forward. Participation at the two conferences this year demonstrated that both seasoned emergency managers, and those who have found new positions in our field throughout the pandemic, are preparing seriously for another active season this year. 

While COVID-19 concerns may be less significant than they have been over the past two hurricane seasons, emergency managers will have several traditional challenges to face this year, as well as some that are unique to 2022. 

With a high probability of another active hurricane season, here are three important things Hagerty’s Director of Response Programs, Lee Mayfield, encourages emergency managers and decision-makers to keep in mind as they prepare for the next six months.


Supply chain issues, rising costs, and gas price implications this hurricane season. Over the past few months, we’ve experienced an increase in daily living costs almost across the board. Gas prices are now averaging $4.60 per gallon nationwide, nightly hotel stays have increased significantly, and costs for everyday items, such as groceries, are on the rise. With gas prices now higher, will residents evacuate if told to do so? Will the increased cost of a week in a hotel persuade a family to stay home or seek out public hurricane shelters in larger numbers than in previous years? Will higher grocery store prices keep individuals from having the necessary supplies on hand or having extra cash saved up for a storm event?

We must also remember that hurricanes have more of an impact on our vulnerable communities and a storm this year would put added economic stress on many who are already struggling. This could translate into more individuals needing support both before and after a storm and will likely also require additional support from non-governmental organization (NGO) partners.

Housing costs. Post-disaster housing has historically been one of the most challenging aspects of hurricane recovery. Setting a hurricane landfall and associated housing issues aside, many hurricane-prone states are in the middle of a housing affordability crisis. With low to moderate income households almost priced out of the market, buying, or renting a home or apartment is already difficult. The current housing situation would almost certainly require additional solutions after a landfall, and emergency managers should be working with their partners now to solve for this.

Evacuating (or not evacuating) your community remains one of the most important decisions you will make – be prepared for it. Local and state leaders now have more tools available to them than ever before, and should constantly be learning, training, and coordinating with the meteorologists who provide crucial information in the days prior to landfall. At the two conferences mentioned above, Ken Graham, Director of the NHC, highlighted the potential for reduced decision-making timelines and the risk of rapidly intensifying hurricanes this season. Of the 4 category 5 hurricanes to strike the US, all were tropical storms three days prior to landfall. Time is often not on our side when it comes to protective action decision-making, and clearly understanding the tools available from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the NHC will build confidence around the art and science behind these important decisions – your local NWS office is also an important year-round resource to assist.


As emergency managers face their first hurricane season where COVID-19 is not as pronounced a concern as in years past, there are certainly new challenges to address that will require thoughtful consideration and creativity. Veteran and new emergency managers alike will once again be required to use their expertise, networks, and partnerships to overcome these challenges.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages individuals to prepare before a tropical storm or hurricane. After determining the risks of severe weather in your community, it is critical to:

  • Collaborate with your family and household to ensure everyone knows how to reliably receive emergency alerts;
  • Know where to seek shelter inside and outside of the home (dependent on the guidance);
  • Know how to find the safest evacuation routes;
  • Know how everyone will maintain communication during the crisis; and
  • Create an emergency kit that is fully stocked. 

Emergency plans should be personalized based upon the unique composition of your family and household – considering the needs of young children, older adults, and pets; dietary and medical requirements; and individuals living with disabilities. Additional preparedness opportunities could include completing FEMA’s Family Emergency Communication Plan or using this resource as a guide to document important contact information that can be shared with your family and household for safekeeping. Once your plan is set, periodically review and rehearse the plan so that everyone involved can become familiar with their responsibilities and equipped with the confidence to make quick decisions during a real emergency. FEMA suggests several precautionary steps you can take to protect your home and personal property from damage by high winds and floods, including reviewing your flood insurance coverage.



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