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Blog Entries from June 2012

June 1, 2012: The Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins, Runs Through November 30

Satellite image of Hurricane Andrew, 1992

NOAA predicts a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, Census offers related facts for features

Conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week from Miami at its Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and home to the Hurricane Research Division.

For the entire six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and of those one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5). Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

Hurricanes by the Numbers

Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau produces timely local statistics that are critical to emergency planning, preparedness and recovery efforts. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the number of people living in areas that could be most affected by these dramatic acts of nature, and more.

  • 37.3 million: Population as of July 1, 2011, of the coastal portion of states stretching from North Carolina to Texas—the areas most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes. Approximately 12 percent of the nation’s population live in these areas;
  • 7: The number of hurricanes during the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, four of them Category 3-strength or higher. Irene was the only hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. and one of the most costly and devastating;
  • 3: Top states for hurricane impacts from 1851-2011Florida (114), Texas (64), Louisiana (57);
  • 1992: Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Florida on Aug. 24, destroying a large swath of South Florida, most notably the city of Homestead. Andrew was the second-costliest tropical cyclone in U.S history and killed 23 in the U.S.

Spotlight on Commerce: Malcolm Lee, Director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning

Portrait of Lee

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I am honored to serve as Counselor to the Secretary of Commerce, where I support Secretary Bryson and lead his Office of Policy and Strategic Planning.  I direct a team of policy advisors that works across the Department and Administration to implement President Obama’s America Built to Last blueprint through focus on a few key priorities:  increasing exports and investment, and strengthening U.S. manufacturing and innovation.  As Secretary Bryson has said, our mission at Commerce is to help American businesses “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”  As part of Secretary Locke and then Secretary Bryson’s senior staff, I have focused my time on economic relations with China, U.S. manufacturing and innovation, and cybersecurity.

I joined Commerce from Microsoft, where I directed international policy and strategy in headquarters, then moved to China as General Manager for China Policy and Strategy.  Prior to that, I served at the White House and State Department during the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, working on international trade, economic and technology policy.  

I graduated from Yale College, worked in the U.S. Senate, attended University of Pennsylvania Law School, then practiced trade law.  As a young lawyer, I served on the Immigration Committee of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, and as pro bono General Counsel of the Organization of Chinese Americans.  Living in China in recent years, I was an elected governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and a member of the board of USITO, which represents U.S. technology companies in China.            

Weather-Readiness Transforms Businesses into Forces of Nature

Be a force of nature logo

With Atlantic hurricane season starting today, this week is national Hurricane Preparedness Week, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is teaming up with other federal partners to help get businesses and communities StormReady. Each year, Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and two landfalling hurricanes. The impacts of this weather have a significant effect on the U.S. economy. In fact, routine weather events in the U.S., such as rain and cooler-than-average days, can add up to an annual economic impact of as much as $485 billion, or about 3.4 percent of the 2008 gross domestic product (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, PDF).  
 
These effects are most keenly felt by those businesses that don’t reopen after a storm. The American Red Cross reports that as many as 40 percent of businesses fail following a disaster. But businesses that are weather-ready don’t have to be part of this statistic. They can be a force of nature by knowing their risk, taking preventative action and being an example for their community. NOAA and other federal partners have a number of tools available to help businesses better prepare for extreme weather.