Hurricane Season: Tips for Your Severe Weather Response Strategies

We’re more than a month into the 2022 hurricane season and if forecasts are correct, those who live in hurricane-potential areas should prepare for an above-normal season.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center says this is the seventh consecutive year for an above-average hurricane season, which continues through Nov. 30.

NOAA’s forecast says there will likely be between 14 to 21 named storms this year where winds will be 39 mph or higher. Of those storms, the prediction center estimates six to 10 of them may become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher.

Half of the respondents to the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) 2022 Extreme Weather and Climate Report say their organization has experienced delays or disruptions acquiring key products because of the impact of climate-related events on the supply chain.

Unfortunately, NOAA predicts there could be three to six major hurricanes, which would be Category 3, 4, or 5. These storms would potentially have wind speeds of 111 mph or higher.

How likely is this forecast to be accurate? NOAA says it provides the ranges with about a 70% degree of confidence.

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Drawing on respondents’ answers, the report finds that even with the increased severe weather potential, along with long-term climate risks, many organizations are still not approaching these events from a resilience management perspective. Instead, most still deal with extreme weather events through their traditional business continuity practices, overlooking the potential impact of long-term escalating risks.

And unfortunately, it may be that way for a while. The report says only about 40% of respondents anticipate the ability to secure more financing to add a layer of resilience to their climate risk response and recovery practices.

That should be alarming for many organizations, especially when the report indicates that almost 67% of respondents say they’re witnessing an increase in severe weather events, with 15% saying the increase is significant.

That budget conundrum is at the top of the barrier list for organizations wanting to take a resilience management approach to their climate risk strategies.

The report findings indicate that part of that issue may exist because practitioners struggle with getting executive and key stakeholder buy-in because those executives don’t know about the potential long-term risks related to these climate events.

The good news is that more than 70% of practitioners want climate risk to be part of their regulatory standards, with more than 63% saying they support a mandate guiding climate risk assessment.

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Tips for a Proactive Approach to Hurricane Season Planning

While we’re already into hurricane season, there are several things your organization can do now to prepare. Here are some tips that may help:

  • If you haven’t done so already, work with a cross-organizational team to identify your organization’s most important assets and services and then determine both the short- and long-term risk implications of a disruption. Also consider the risk impact to your vendors, the market, and your customers.
  • Review, update, and test your existing hurricane plan, taking into account those short-term and long-term risks.
  • Contact your critical suppliers and assess their ability to respond and recover from a severe weather event.
  • If you have not done so already, determine secondary suppliers you could work with, if necessary, during a disruption, especially a disruption with long-lasting impacts.
  • Inform employees, vendors, partners, and key stakeholders of their specific responsibilities based on your disaster response plans.
  • Establish a primary and alternate means of communicating with your employees, critical vendors, business partners, key stakeholders, and customers. Make sure these systems and protocols are well understood and tested.
  • Confirm your IT systems and data backup procedures are comprehensive and up-to-date.
  • Review your insurance policies to make sure you have flood and wind coverage as well as any coverage limits. Ensure your policy covers general business liability, environmental, pollution etc.
  • Educate and train employees to be ready for response and recovery. It may also be helpful to have them develop a family emergency plan. The BCI report indicates that staff absence is considered the main outcome of extreme weather threats (62.5%), but followed closely by loss of power and loss of premises.
  • Adopt a resilience management platform that can help you manage emergency response with automation and efficiencies. Look for a platform that can help you manage not just your employee contacts and emergency communications, but also one that supports your communication efforts to your customers, stakeholders, and other critical partners. You’ll want to ensure your weather response plans include communication strategies for before, during, and after an event.
  • Look for a resilience management platform that will centralize all of your severe-event management strategies, including off-line access to your plans and playbooks, as well as the ability to manage everything off-prem in an easy-to-understand and use dashboard.

Need help establishing a severe-weather response plan or want help building resilience management into your plans so you’re better prepared to respond to long-term climate risks? Contact a Castellan advisor today.

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