It’s that time of year again: storm season. Due to the unpredictable nature of summer’s sudden storms, arborists and tree care crews must stay on their toes and be prepared to respond quickly when tree removal and cleanup are required. In the Midwest, tornado season, which generally runs from April through July, is already in full swing, and I’ve seen reports of powerful tornadoes uprooting and damaging trees in Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

As tornado season winds down, Atlantic hurricane season (June to November) is just heating up. This morning, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced their predictions for the upcoming season, saying that this year could produce an “active to extremely active” hurricane season.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of 14 to 23 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), including eight to 14 hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), of which three to seven could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph). NOAA’s outlook exceeds the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes, and is a far cry from last year’s season, which brought only nine named storms, the least amount of hurricane activity in a dozen years.

Whether NOAA’s predictions materialize or we see minimal hurricane activity this year, it’s always wise to plan for the worst and hope for the best. In this month’s issue, we cover the cleanup efforts of tree crews in Baton Rouge, La., in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, a 2008 storm that packed winds of 115 mph and caused an estimated $4.3 billion in damage. (See page 7 for details.) As evidenced in Baton Rouge’s recovery efforts, emergency preparedness can go a long way in expediting the cleanup process.

As always, I’d love to hear about the work you’re doing in your neck of the woods. If you get any storm cleanup/response work this year and would like to share your story, document your experience and pass it along to me at the e-mail address below.

Katie Meyers