Terminal Industry Prepares for Hurricane Season with Drills, Plans

June 2, 2021
Terminal Industry Prepares

Members of the International Liquid Terminal Association are prepared for the upcoming hurricane season – which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts as more active than normal – with drills, emergency preparedness plans, and ongoing communications with government, emergency response, and industry partners. The Atlantic hurricane begins June 1 and runs through November 30. While NOAA on May 20 predicted another very active hurricane season, it said its experts do not expect the historical level of storm activity of 2020.

“Our industry takes hurricanes very seriously,” ILTA President Kathryn Clay said. “Our priorities are protecting our workers, the environment and our neighboring communities. Our member companies work to ensure the best possible operations even when hurricanes threaten to disrupt supply chains.” Terminals store a wide variety of products, including chemicals, crude oil, petroleum products, renewable fuels, asphalt, animal fats and oils, vegetable oils, molasses and fertilizers.

ILTA members work with federal, state and local first responders and government officials to promote safety before, during, and after extreme storm events. Because no two storms are alike, ILTA members routinely participate in exercises and training to prepare and respond to many possible contingencies that may occur due to extreme weather events. It is industry practice to prepare for a storm in stages at 96 hours, 72 hours, and 48 hours prior to hurricane impact to ensure that terminals are safe and secured. Post-storm checklists help assess potential damage, alert local, state, and federal authorities of damage, and resume operations – or help find service alternatives.

“Many terminals are located along coastlines, both in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast, where hurricanes are prevalent,” Clay noted. “Our members work with our maritime partners to not only secure marine terminal operations, but to ensure the safety of maritime workers.”

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, forecasted a 60 percent chance of a more active than normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, a 30 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season. The center predicted a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to ten could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to five major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher).

It’s important to note that NOAA in April announced it would use new, higher numbers for an “average” hurricane season as part of a once-a-decade realignment. An “average” Atlantic hurricane season now is 14 named storms and seven hurricanes. The average for major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) remains unchanged at three. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The previous 30-year period used storms from 1981 to 2010.

*Founded in 1974, the International Liquid Terminals Association represents more than 85 companies operating liquid terminals in all 50 states and in over 40 countries. Our members’ facilities provide critical links between all modes of transportation for liquid commodities, such as crude oil, petroleum products, chemicals, renewable fuels, fertilizer, vegetable oils and other food-grade materials that are central to the U.S. economy. Terminals provide essential logistics services that spur trade both within the United States and connect the U.S. economy with overseas markets. ILTA’s membership also includes about 400 companies that supply equipment and services to the terminal industry.

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