Pandemic and Hurricanes Not a Good Mix

With COVID-19 still widespread, the storm season could present an additional hurdle to FBOs and aircraft operators in the danger zone.

Meteorological predictions are calling for more active hurricanes this year, and two have already made landfall before the traditional start of the Caribbean/Atlantic storm season on June 1. While preparations in vulnerable areas are in motion, this year brings the added complication of having to deal with the COVID-19 threat as well.

“A lot of that [hurricane preparation] is stockpiling water, food supplies, and now with the addition of COVID, additional PPE, contemplating that in a storm you may very well not have access to those things,” said Christopher Rozansky, executive director of the Naples (Florida) Airport Authority. Speaking at a recent National Business Aviation Association webinar, he said that during mid-March, when the pandemic began taking hold in the U.S., scientists noticed that Gulf of Mexico temperatures were warming more than usual, which is typically a harbinger of increased storm activity.

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Rozansky, whose airport was heavily impacted by 2017’s Hurricane Irma, explained that FBOs should keep their fuel farms topped off as much as possible to allow them to evacuate aircraft ahead of a storm and support recovery traffic.

Another concern that weighs heavily is the safety of FBO staffers and their families. While the plan may be to keep facilities open as long as is safely possible and reopen when prudent, the human element must also be considered, Rozansky noted.