Biden visits Fema as Atlantic hurricane season gears up early
Scientists predict there will be six to 10 major hurricanes this year
US President Joe Biden visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) on Monday before what scientists predict will be an active hurricane season.
"We all know that these storms are coming and we're going to be prepared; we have to be ready," Mr Biden said at Fema headquarters in Washington.
Subtropical storm Ana, which formed near Bermuda at the weekend, became the first named storm of the year, weeks before the official start of the season.
The storm doesn't pose a threat and is expected to head north-east away from Bermuda and fade away over the Atlantic Ocean.
According to The Washington Post, this is the seventh consecutive year a storm was named before the season officially began.
Mr Biden was briefed on the hurricane outlook during his visit, in which he announced a $1 billion allocation to Fema to help it better prepare for hurricanes and other extreme weather events.
“That's going to double the funding available from last year and it's going to help communities, including those too often overlooked, and it’s going to invest in resilience and [help them] better protect themselves to serve other climate events they’re going to be facing," he said.
However the funding isn't much in terms of how costly major weather events have become: the US suffered $100bn in damages last year from 22 events, according to The Associated Press.
The country already confronted a major storm this year, when rare snows and freezing temperatures hit Texas, leading to deaths, power and water outages and delays in the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a report on Friday predicting an active hurricane season, which officially starts June 1 and lasts until November 30.
The agency projects there will be six to 10 hurricanes out of 13 to 20 named storms this season. The NOAA says three to five will become major hurricanes – storms exceeding 178 kilometres per hour.
"Now is the time to get ready for the busiest time of the year for disasters in America; hurricane season in the south and east, and the fire season out west," Mr Biden said.
The 2020 hurricane season broke records: 30 named storms with 13 hurricanes, the highest in history. Six of these storms became major hurricanes – the second-highest number ever recorded.
"I think we learnt a few lessons from last year," Mr Biden said. "We don't have a moment to lose preparing for 2021."
Scientists have concluded that climate change is fuelling fiercer storms and helping them gain strength faster.
Mr Biden has emphasised the importance of addressing climate change throughout his presidency and has made it a part of the nation's infrastructure plan.
“We’re going to spare no expense, no effort to keep Americans safe and respond to crises when they arise, and they certainly will," he said on Monday.
Updated: May 25, 2021 12:56 AM