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Are you ready for Hurricane Season?

Making sure you are ready for Hurricane season can become a daunting task.   This article will help you become more proactive in the coming season.  This page explains what actions to take when you receive a hurricane watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area. It also provides tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.

Hurricane Basics

What

Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. These large storms are called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world.

Where

Each year, many parts of the United States experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods, and coastal storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. Affected areas include all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas and areas over 100 miles inland, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific. A significant per cent of fatalities occur outside of landfall counties with causes due to inland flooding.

When

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

Basic Preparedness Tips

  • Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.
  • Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
  • If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.
  • Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”

Preparing Your Home

  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
  • Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.

Hurricane Watch

Hurricane watch = conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.

Steps to take:

Hurricane Warning

Hurricane warning = conditions are expected within 36 hrs.

Steps to take:

  • Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.
  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • Follow the hurricane timeline preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.

What to do when a hurricane is 6 hours from arriving

  • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
  • Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

What to do when a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving

  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.

What to do when a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving

  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.
  • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

What to do when a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving

  • Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
  • Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

After a Hurricane

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
  • Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

When there is no hurricane: Make a hurricane plan

  • Know your hurricane risk. Talk to your local emergency management agency.
  • Make an emergency plan.
    • Sign up for alerts and warnings
    • Make a Family Communication plan
    • Plan shelter options
    • Know your evacuation route
  • Build or restock your basic disaster supplies kit, including food and water, a flashlight, batteries, chargers, cash, and first aid supplies.
  • Consider buying flood insurance.
  • Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to get to higher ground or to evacuate.
  • Stay tuned to local wireless emergency alerts, TV, or radio for weather updates, emergency instructions, or evacuation orders.

Dreaded ‘Cone of Uncertainty’ will shrink for the coming Hurricane Season

The National Hurricane Center plans to shrink the dreaded “cone of uncertainty” during the upcoming season based on an improving forecast record.

The Miami-based center made the announcement Monday, along with a series of other changes intended to improve how hurricane forecasters convey warnings to the public. Along with the shrinking cone, forecasters will extend advisories, which include warnings and watches, to 72 hours in advance of a storm, providing a full additional day to prepare. Experimental graphics used last year to depict arrival times for dangerous winds will also become a permanent addition to forecasts.

“The changes are to improve information contained in the hurricane center products and to provide it in maybe easier to understand formats,” said Dan Brown, a senior hurricane specialist in charge of warning coordination.

The forecast cone has long been a fixture of the hurricane forecasts but frequently debated because the public tends to focus on the center track, ignoring dangerous winds and other hazards that can extend for many more miles.

The cone is calculated using the previous five-year record of forecast errors and drawn to reflect at least two-thirds of the inaccuracies. In other words, the cone provides a probable track about two-thirds of the time. Improved forecast tracks in recent years have allowed forecasters to narrow the cone, Brown said. Two years ago, they enlarged it to include 5-day forecasts and last year added tropical storm force wind projections.

But he warned the public should still consider the cone an imperfect estimate.

“A third of the time storms can still fall outside the cone,” he said. “It doesn’t provide you with any indication of potential impacts. It’s only showing you where the center is likely to track.”

Forecasters also felt improved forecast tracks allowed them to extend warnings and watches to provide more preparation time, Brown said. More people were also poring over forecast graphics that included five-day estimates, so it made sense to incorporate warnings, he said.

Last year the center also began tracking and warning about tropical systems even before they became full-blown tropical depressions or storms if they threatened land within 48 hours, a move made to improve warnings about storms that form in the Gulf and provide little time to prepare.

The Weather Prediction Center, which tracks systems once they weaken below tropical depression intensity, will also begin issuing advisories to better warn the public about ongoing hazards like heavy rain. Last year, the center compiled the information as Hurricane Harvey meandered off the Texas coast and concluded it helped better communicate the potential danger of the immense storm as it continued to do damage, Brown explained.

The changes come following a record-breaking year for Atlantic hurricanes — 10 formed in a row including Irma, the most powerful ever recorded outside the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Last year put the warnings tools to the test, Brown said, but does not necessarily drive this year’s changes, which were already being planned.

“Improving products is always on our minds,” he said.

However, the storms did confirm some efforts, particularly a big push to improve warnings about storm surge.

“Despite the fact three Cat 4 hurricane landfalls occurred in the U.S., there were no known storm surge-related deaths. There may have been other factors, but [storm surge warnings] certainly played into it,” he said. “The mapping is helping with better awareness.”

The center is also in the midst of a longer-term look at how it issues warnings as part of a 10-year effort to improve intensity forecasts. While forecasters have improved track projections dramatically, rapidly intensifying storms like Irma and Maria remain difficult to forecast.

Waves crash over a seawall at the mouth of the Miami River from Biscayne Bay as Hurricane Irma passes by in Miami on Sept. 10, 2017.

Boats block the Overseas Highway after Hurricane Irma’s surge tossed boats, cars, sheds, appliances and other debris onto the highway throughout the middle Keys on Sept. 10, 2017.

 

Article provided by Bradenton Herald