Active Season Predicted

By Barbara Melendez


TAMPA, Fla. (June 1, 2010) – Between June 1 and November 30 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts we can expect an "active to very active" 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. That means 14 to 23 named storms, 8 to 14 hurricanes and 3 to 7 major hurricanes.


Expert analysis will be needed to address the effects of wind and storm surge, preparedness, water quality, evacuation, psychological and socioeconomic effects, the young and the elderly. University of South Florida researchers are available to address a variety of hurricane-related issues as the season unfolds.


Many of USF’s hurricane experts are international leaders in their disciplines who have gathered unique insights into hurricane preparation, evacuation and storm science. USF researchers also have explored the socioeconomic and psychological dimensions of hurricanes, including the impact of storms on Florida’s vulnerable populations.


Hurricanes, Wind and Storm Surge 


Distinguished University Professor Robert Weisberg, (College of Marine Science), studies ocean circulation and ocean-atmosphere interaction in the tropics, on continental shelves and in estuaries. Predicting hurricane storm surge is one of his areas of expertise. He directs a coastal ocean observing and modeling system for the west Florida continental shelf. He has served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on the New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection System, and he is familiar with the destruction that occurred along the Mississippi coast. His simulations (with USF colleague Lianyuan Zheng) of storm surge scenarios for the greater Tampa Bay region may be found at Along with hurricane storm surge, Weisberg can comment on tropical ocean currents, sea surface temperature, and the relationship between these factors and climate. He can be reached at (727) 553-1568.


Qingnong Xiao is an associate professor at the College of Marine Science with an expertise in hurricane study. He came to USF from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. His work is in the area of hurricane initialization and forecasting with a focus on assimilation of various data from remote sensing (satellite, airborne Doppler radar) and other in situ observations, and evaluation of the data impact on hurricane forecasting. Xiao works with a team focused on ocean-atmosphere interaction and can talk about that connection. He can be reached at (727) 553-3352.


Lianyuan Zheng (College of Marine Science) has research interests focused on numerical simulations of circulation and water quality over continental shelf, coastal ocean, and estuary. Zheng applies the high-resolution Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) to simulate storm surge in Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor, and can be reached at (727) 553-1639.


Jennifer Collins (College of Arts and Sciences) is an assistant professor of geography whose research focuses on weather and climate. She particularly investigates tropical climatology, specifically hurricane activity. She is currently studying the environmental factors influencing the variation of hurricane numbers in the Northeast Pacific and she is examining the anti-correlation between hurricane numbers in the Atlantic versus those in part of the Northeast Pacific ocean basin. Her recent hurricane work detailed the active 2009 NE Pacific season and the inactive 2009 Atlantic season. In addition to her hurricane work, Collins works in other areas related to weather and hazards. She works closely on projects with the National Weather Service involving tornados and fog and has studied behavior relating to hurricane evacuation. In addition she collaborates with international researchers and works in the area of climate change. She is the President of the West Central Florida American Meteorological Society (AMS) and is the Director of the Climate Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. She can be reached at (813) 974-4242.


Socioeconomic Impact of Disasters


Graham A. Tobin (geography, College of Arts and Sciences) studies the social, economic and political aspects of natural disasters and has recently completed work on the hurricane hazard. The author of Natural Hazards, Tobin has examined floods in California, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Idaho, and volcanoes in Ecuador and Mexico. He can also talk about risk areas and vulnerabilities to Hillsborough County. He can be reached at (813) 974-3077.


Hurricanes and Kids


Judith Becker Bryant (psychology, College of Arts and Sciences) can comment on how to prepare children for traumatic events, such as hurricanes, and the impact that such events have on children. She is a national expert on developmental psychology, with a specific emphasis on language and social development in young children. She can be reached at her office at (813) 974-0475 or by email at


Jennifer Baggerly (counselor education, College of Education) is an expert on hurricane social/humanitarian interventions as related to children.  Baggerly is a licensed mental health counselor supervisor, a registered play therapist supervisor and a field traumatologist who provided disaster response after the 2004 Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. She is experienced with the phenomenon of compassion fatigue resiliency and has examined the impact of the 2004 hurricanes on students taking the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). She is currently exploring the effectiveness of hurricane preparedness in lessening children’s anxiety and increasing their coping skills. She can be reached at her office at (813) 974-6714.


Evacuations and Traffic


Edward Mierzejewski (director, Center for Urban Transportation Research) and Pei-Sung Lin (Program Director, ITS, Traffic Operations and Safety, CUTR) have studied traffic tie-ups and other transportation snafus associated with hurricane evacuations and can make suggestions for making evacuations smoother, especially in high traffic areas where roads are under construction. Mierzjewski can be reached at (813) 974-9797. Pei-Sung Lin can be reached at (813) 974-4910.


Hurricane Management and Response


Steve Morris, co-director of Bioterrorism and Disaster Training (USF College of Nursing), spent a month volunteering in southern Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, where he served as medical advisor to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Morris has extensive experience working in a variety of disasters and disaster scenarios. He has designed and implemented a comprehensive training program for health professionals focusing on man-made and natural disasters, along with disease surveillance and reporting. He can be reached through Anne DeLotto Baier or Susanna Martinez Tarokh at the USF Health Communications Office at (813) 974-3300.


Community Safety and Worker Fatigue


Robert Nesbit (program manager, USF OSHA Training Institute Education Center) manages the center’s Train the Trainer program. He and his staff of OSHA-authorized disaster site worker trainers can comment on a number of hurricane and storm-related safety issues and health issues, including the increased potential for accidents due to worker fatigue. The center, based at the College of Public Health, offers disaster site workers training in the hazards associated with cleaning up debris; temporary roof repairs; dealing with downed power lines, fallen trees and portable power generators; safe use of chainsaws; and heat stress. He also can speak to the issue of adequate disaster recovery plans and training for public and private sector employees responsible for restoring utilities and removing debris left by storms. Nesbit can be reached at (813) 974-6879.


Hurricanes and the Elderly


Amanda Smith (Eric Pfeiffer Suncoast Alzheimer’s Center at USF Health) can comment on how the stress of an impending natural disaster like a hurricane impacts the elderly, including those with memory disorders or other neuropsychiatric disorders. For those with dementia, news of a hurricane or its aftermath can have a particularly disorienting effect and aggravate behavioral problems, she says. Smith volunteered in Port Charlotte as part of an Area Agency on Aging assessment team following Hurricane Charley in August 2004. Smith can be reached at (813) 974-4355.


Lisa Brown (Department of Aging and Mental Health Disparities) is an associate professor who conducts research on the impact of disasters on the mental health of older adults. She is an expert on resilience, assessment, intervention and the use of disaster mental health services. Dr. Brown is currently investigating the use of social marketing as a method to motivate people to take appropriate action to remain safe during extreme weather events. She can be reached at (813) 974-0098.


Kathryn Hyer (School of Aging Studies, College of Arts and Sciences) conducted research on impact of evacuations, electrical outages and other service disruptions, and other effects of the 2004 hurricanes on the elderly and their long-term care providers. She participated in a meeting of Gulf Coast State Long Term Care Facilities in their efforts to improve preparedness based on their experience with the 2004 storms. Hyer can be reached at (813) 974-3232.


Disaster Management Training/Public Health Impacts of Natural Disasters


Thomas Mason, professor of environmental and occupational health (College of Public Health), has extensive experience in disaster preparedness training.  He was co-director of the Homeland Security for Medical Executives Course (HLSMEC), which prepares senior medical officers, senior staff and civilian executive medical managers to meet the challenges and complexities of a natural disaster or a chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear or explosive disaster in the U.S. and its territories. He is a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service and serves as a special consultant on the epidemiology of disasters and injury response for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Injury Response. He can be reached through Anne DeLotto Baier or Susanna Martinez Tarokh at the USF Health Communications Office at (813) 974-3300.


Community Preparedness and Recovery


Robin Ersing (School of Social Work) is an associate professor who studies community-based disaster preparedness to promote resilience in post-storm recovery. She is a trained and active Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member with Tampa Fire Rescue and an expert on vulnerabilities in under-resourced and lower-income communities.  Dr. Ersing is currently exploring the role of volunteer citizen responders to support the relief and recovery efforts of impacted communities. She can be reached at her office at (813) 974-6572.




The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.