2013 is predicted to have an especially active hurricane season, which runs from June through November. Hurricanes can bring high winds, flash flooding, rip currents, storm surges, and even tornadoes. With the many risks associated with hurricanes, are you informed and ready to act in the event one strikes your area?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines a hurricane as “a tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind is equal to or greater than 74 mph.” Hurricanes form over the ocean when warm, moist air rises and cooler air rushes in to take its place. The cool air then heats up, causing it to rise. When the moist air rises, it condenses to form clouds. This system will continue in a cycle, forming more and more clouds and continually increasing in size.
Eventually, the storm will grow large enough to be classified as a tropical storm, which is similar to a hurricane, but with lesser wind speed. As it travels toward land, it can continue to increase in magnitude, eventually gaining enough power to be called a hurricane. The storm develops an eye, which is a calm, clear area of high pressure in the center of the storm.
Once a hurricane makes landfall, it can create catastrophic damage, causing massive flooding, destroying buildings, and downing power lines and trees. Survival can depend on the precautions you take beforehand and your ability to stay informed of weather alerts.
Even before a hurricane reaches land, you can take several steps to make sure that you are as safe as possible when one hits. Most importantly, keep track of all news, updates, and alerts. A weather alert radio can help notify you when important information is released, and also save time during a storm. A battery-backup or hand crank-powered model is the best option in the case of a hurricane because it will continue to broadcast alerts, even in the event that you are trapped in your home for several days without electricity (given you have a supply of working batteries on hand.)
Put together an emergency kit with everything you might need during a powerful tropical storm. Make sure to include essentials such as flashlights, batteries, blankets, matches, and water. Having everything all ready to go can save you precious time in the case of an emergency.
Learn more about your surroundings and specific risks that you could face, such as a nearby levee breaking. Know your community’s hurricane evacuation routes, and plan for where you would go in the case of an evacuation. Also take steps to secure your property. Consider installing permanent storm shutters, which will offer the best protection, or cover windows with plywood.
We’ve seen firsthand the destruction a hurricane brings. With hurricane season upon us, please take the time to review your safety plans and stock your emergency preparedness kits now. Waiting until a hurricane has formed could mean limited supplies and less time for you and your family to evacuate or prepare as necessary.
For additional hurricane preparedness and safety information, visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes