This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 31, 2006

DOE Prepares for the North Atlantic Hurricane Season

The North Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1st, and DOE announced in late May that it is taking a number of steps to prepare. DOE has strengthened its hurricane response system through increased coordination with federal, state, and local leaders in a number of ways, including: training an additional 30 employees for emergency response, bringing the cadre of specially trained DOE response coordination personnel to more than 70; hosting the Energy Leadership forum in Tunica, Mississippi, in January to review best practices and lessons learned with industry representatives and federal, state, and local government leaders; updating and enhancing the hurricane modeling system for DOE's Visualization Room; working with states to improve their energy assurance plans; and implementing a toll-free hotline that will allow state and local leaders and representatives from the energy industry to improve communications with DOE during emergencies.

Last year, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita knocked out electricity to a large portion of the Gulf Coast and damaged a number of oil and gas recovery platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and refineries along the shore. In response, DOE deployed emergency response experts to the Gulf region and had dozens of other individuals working on the hurricane response from DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C. DOE coordinated with other federal agencies, state and local government leaders, and private industry to overcome obstacles and bring power back online and bring fuel to affected regions of the country. At President Bush's direction, DOE made crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve available for loan and sale to oil refiners to help maintain gasoline supply for the nation. DOE also ensured that high-sulfur diesel fuel was provided to utility pole companies so that poles would be ready for installation as soon as the storms passed. See the DOE press release.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned that a very active hurricane season is looming in the North Atlantic basin. NOAA predicts 13 to 16 named storms, with 8 to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which 4 to 6 could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. If the prediction holds true, this year's hurricane season will be milder than last year, but still much more active than normal. See the NOAA press release.