The nightmare 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is finally over, but the toll it took on the Gulf Coast can be seen no matter where you go.
Trouble in the tropics started early with the first named storm forming weeks before the hurricane season officially began.
A record breaking 30 named storms forming this year, 12 of them slamming into the United States. In the Gulf of Mexico, first up was Cristobal in early June. Then Marco and Laura hit Louisiana hard. Harrison County EMA Deputy Director Matt Stratton said, “Uh, it’s hard to say what Laura is bringing to us later this week, but with Marco, it is not quite the same situation as Cristobal.”
Just a couple of weeks later, Hurricane Sally rapidly intensifies and slams into the coast of Alabama. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said, “Y’all, we knew Sally had the potential to be a devastating storm, but y’all it’s really bad.”
Storm names on the standard list were running out before the peak of the season and activity in the tropics was just ramping up. Harrison County EMA Director Rupert Lacy said, “August has always been a bad month for us and September is just around the corner.”
After dodging several bullets, the hurricane fatigue was real. But Coast residents still had another battle to face with Hurricane Zeta. Even a month after the storm roared ashore, places like Long Beach are still picking up the pieces.
The scale of the damage even surprising some life-long Coast residents that have lived several decades of hurricane seasons, including some powerful storms like Camille and Katrina. Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott said, “And I’ve never seen a hurricane, including Camille, that did damage to the oak trees as this hurricane did. I mean it is absolutely astounding what it has done to the beautiful oaks and uh, it hasn’t totally destroyed them but it has done some serious damage to them.”
Hurricane season is officially over, according to the calendar, but if the year 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Forecasters plan to keep an eye on the tropics through December and beyond and those hit hardest by this year’s storms continue the slow road to recovery with restoration efforts expected to take months or even years.