There are five months of hurricane season each year, with storm activity peaking in August and September. The hurricane season starts every year on June 1. A basic understanding of how to prepare for a hurricane could save your life, regardless of the current forecast.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to hurricane preparation. You need to know what the forecasts and news reporters are saying to you about the storm’s power, magnitude, and even the angle at which it’s approaching your location.
Those cyclones classified as tropical depressions have winds of 38 mph or less. Tropical storms have wind speeds of 39-73 mph, whereas hurricanes have winds of 74 mph or more. The top right quadrant of the storm (the core around the eye) is typically the most intense area of the storm.
Among the most serious dangers include devastating winds, storm surges, and flooding. Hurricane Katrina’s 28-foot storm surges on the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts were a major factor in the storm’s devastation.
The following are some terms you’ll hear:
- Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions are possible in the area.
- Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the area.
Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
- Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions are expected in the area.
- Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the area.
Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of tropical storm force winds.
- Eye: Clear, sometimes the well-defined center of the storm with calmer conditions.
- Eye Wall: Surrounding the eye, contains some of the most severe weather of the storm with the highest wind speed and largest precipitation.
- Rain Bands: Bands coming off the cyclone that produce severe weather conditions such as heavy rain, wind, and tornadoes.
- Storm Surge: An often underestimated and deadly result of ocean water swelling as a result of a landfalling storm, and quickly flooding coastal and sometimes areas further inland.
Preparing your home and evacuation plan in advance of a warning is a good idea during a watch. During a warning, pay attention to what officials say and leave the area right once if they tell you to.
An Extreme Wind Warning/Advisory, which indicates that persistent gusts of at least 115mph will commence within an hour, advises that you should immediately take shelter in a well-built structure’s internal area.
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Forecasting the path of a tropical storm is difficult because of the numerous global and local elements at play. The size and course of a storm can have a direct impact on the wind patterns that help, enhance, or hinder the storm’s growth.
Computers used by weather forecasters analyze vast quantities of data to make educated guesses about where a storm will travel. These predictions are usually correct for a period of two to three days out. During this discussion, you may hear the terms “computer model” and “spinach model.”
The average consensus of these models is typically used to provide a predicted track or path. Tropical storm developments, forecasts and weather alerts, debates interpreting the data, and more are all kept up to current at the National Hurricane Center. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
The names of hurricanes are chosen at random and then rotated every six years. To avoid confusion, the names of hurricanes that were catastrophic or incredibly lethal and costly (e.g. Charlie, Katrina, Irene) have been formally retired. Please visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml to get the most recent list of tropical cyclone names.
If you are forced to evacuate, it is essential to have a kit of goods ready to go. For those who are fortunate to stay in their homes despite the storm’s effects, this package is a must-have. When a hurricane approaches near, there is a widespread sense of dread.
Many individuals hurry to stock up on goods when this happens. Prepare your gear in advance, and you’ll save yourself a lot of anxiety in a high-stress situation. Your toolbox should be contained in a portable case. The following are a few ideas to think about including:
- Non-perishable food (enough to last at least 3 days)
- Water (enough to last at least 3 days)
- First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
- Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
- Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
- Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
- Waterproof container with cash and important documents
- Manual can opener
- Lighter or matches
- Books, magazines, games for recreation
- Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
- Cooler and ice packs
- A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated
Securing Your Home
In the event of a hurricane, storm surge, or flood, know how to protect your house and family.
- Cover all of your windows, either with hurricane shutters or wood.
- Although tape can prevent the glass from shattering everywhere, be warned that tape does not prevent the window from breaking.
- If possible, secure straps or clips to securely fasten your roof to the structure of your home.
- Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed and clear rain gutters.
- Reinforce your garage doors.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that is not tied down.
- If winds become strong, stay away from windows and doors and close, secure, and brace internal doors
When a storm knocks out electricity to your home, there are a few things to think about that can help you prepare and stay safe in addition to your standard hurricane preparation.
- Gas: Make sure you have enough gas in your tank before a storm hits. People tend to rush to fill up their vehicles and generators at the last minute, which causes gas stations to run out of fuel before they expect it.
- ATMS: If no ATMs are available or functional in your location, have additional cash on hand.
- Cell Phones: Charge your cell phone and limit use after power is out.
- A/C: Losing power during a storm has the potential to cause the most distress. Internal window coverings can help keep your home cooler by blocking as much sunlight as possible. Unless you’re in the room, don’t use any backup or battery-operated fans. By spreading heat off your skin rather than chilling the environment, fans help you feel more comfortable in hot weather. It’s been asserted that simply running one will warm up a room.
- Water: Ensure that the bathtub and other large containers are filled with water exclusively for washing and flushing.
- Food: If you predict a power loss, lower the temperature of your refrigerator and/or freeze any food or water that can be frozen. How to Freeze Food: Here’s a Quick Guide to Food Safety and Freezing. Prepare a cooler with ice packs in case the power is off for more than four hours. Also, keep in mind the following food safety tip when deciding whether or not to discard any perishable items: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg food.html
- Health/Safety: In the event of a power loss, the CDC provides an excellent guide on how to keep safe: Outages of electricity.
Always keep in mind that even the most little of storms can be life-threatening. Landfill cyclones are disruptive and stressful, and anyone who has weathered one can attest to this. One of the greatest ways to be prepared for a cyclone is to know its approach, arrival, and post-cyclone stages.
Prepare for the approach in advance and pay attention to instructions from authorities. Prepare your home or find a secure place to shelter in advance of its arrival, and know how to proceed in the aftermath.