Assuming that 2013 was a relatively mild year for severe weather, should business owners start shuttering their doors ahead of the 2014 hurricane season?
This, among other questions, were chief concerns during the Planalytics 2014 Hurricane Outlook Webcast on Thursday.
"If there's one thing you should take away, it's that a below-normal season doesn't mean quiet," said Jeff Doran, manager of client services. "It only takes one," he said, referencing historic storms like Hurricane Andrew.
And by all accounts, 2014 is shaping up to be a "below-normal" year, with storms likely to bump up against a windy Gulf Coast or take a familiar recurving trajectory up the East Coast.
The difference between this year and last year's Memorial Day is already vast -- Memorial Day in 2013 was the coolest since 2005, and the one that just passed was the fifth warmest in 50 years -- a 10 to 20 degree increase across many of the major U.S. markets. And though it's been slow to catch on, severe weather is on the increase this season, said Planalytics analysts.
After a 2013 that "felt quiet" by all accounts (due to a lack of strong storms or U.S. landfalls), we are now in unprecedented territory, at over 3,100 days and counting since a Category 3 storm or greater (Sandy, as a reminder, was technically a Category 1 storm by the time it hit the U.S.).
According to Planalytics, the perfect storm could well brew, given the Atlantic Ocean now being in an optimal "warm" phase and the Equatorial Pacific moving toward El Nino conditions.