June marks the beginning of another hurricane season, and we’re not talking about North Carolina’s only professional hockey team! We have already seen the effects of damaging weather in this year’s early hurricane season. Two named storms have come and gone, and one caused a good bit of damage to our coast in the forms of heavy rain, flooding, and tornado outbreaks.
Are you prepared? Most hurricanes affecting North Carolina develop in late summer, so now is the time to make sure your institution is as ready as possible for hurricane season. Lets take a look at some of the things we need to consider when developing our Hurricane Plan.
Storm surge and large waves produced by hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property along the coast. Storm Surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. Storm surge can reach heights well over 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline. More intense and larger hurricanes produce higher surge. In addition, shallower offshore waters contribute to higher storm surge inundation. Storm surge is by far the greatest threat to life and property along the immediate coast.
Hurricanes and tropical storms can also produce tornadoes. These tornadoes most often occur in thunderstorms embedded in rain bands–well away from the center of the hurricane; however, they can also occur near the eyewall. Usually, tornadoes produced by tropical cyclones are relatively weak and short-lived, but they still pose a significant threat.
Hurricane-force winds, 74 mph or more, can destroy buildings and mobile homes. Debris, such as signs, roofing material, siding and small items left outside become flying missiles during hurricanes. Winds can stay above hurricane strength well inland.
Tropical cyclones often produce widespread, torrential rains in excess of 6 inches, which may result in deadly and destructive floods. In fact, flooding is the major threat from tropical cyclones for people living inland. Flash flooding, defined as a rapid rise in water levels, can occur quickly due to intense rainfall. Longer-term flooding on rivers and streams can persist for several days after the storm. Rainfall amounts are not directly related to the strength of tropical cyclones but rather to the speed and size of the storm, as well as the geography of the area. Slower moving and larger storms produce more rainfall. In addition, mountainous terrain enhances rainfall from a tropical cyclone.
So, are you and your institution ready? Here are some things to think about now:
- Determine safe evacuation routes inland.
- Learn locations of official shelters.
- Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and battery-powered equipment such as cell phones and your NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver.
- Buy food that will keep and store drinking water.
- Buy plywood or other material to protect your home or institution if you don’t already have it, and practice how you will install them.
- Trim trees and shrubbery so branches don’t fly into your home or institution.
- Clear clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Decide where to move your boat or other outside objects that could float.
- Decide where to move objects and collections to higher ground, and practice it.
- Do you know how to cut off all utilities (electric, water, gas) to your institution?
- Review your insurance policy.