Tune in to hurricane warnings

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It is so easy to tune out the hurricane and tropical storm updates when it is clear that North Carolina will not see the brunt of it.
As we all take a sigh of relief that we dodged another potential disaster, let’s consider this the optimum time to complete the preparations for the season.
Hurricane season runs from June to November. We may be halfway through the season, but some of the biggest hurricanes in history have come in the second half of the season.
Hurricane Hugo, 1989’s category 4 hurricane came in late September. The hurricane killed 56 people and left more than $9.7 billion dollars in damage.
Hurricane Floyd was another September arrival, killing 57 and leaving more than $9.2 billion dollars in damage.
Hurricane Opal made landfall in October 1995, and a 1925 hurricane struck Florida on November 30.
The best time to find well-stocked shelves of hurricane supplies like water and batteries is when there is no threat of a hurricane in your area. Take advantage of our good fortune by preparing for an occasion when we won’t be so lucky.
For information on how to prepare for a hurricane, visit the following websites:

  • www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php
  • www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/index.shtm
  • www.redcross.org

Understanding the terminology

A tropical cyclone is a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level circulation. Tropical cyclones rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.
They are classified as follows:

  • Tropical Depression — A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.
  • Tropical Storm — A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34 to 63 knots).
  • Hurricane — A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons; similar storms in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean are called cyclones.
  • Major Hurricane — A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph (96 knots) or higher, corresponding to a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Hurricane-preparedness kit
Water — 1 gallon per person per day (a week’s supply of water is preferable)
Water purification kit or bleach
First-aid kit and first aid book
Precooked, nonperishable foods, such as canned meats, granola bars, instant soup & cereals, etc.
Baby supplies: formula, bottle, pacifier, soap, baby powder, clothing, blankets, baby wipes, disposable diapers, canned food and juices
Nonelectric can opener
Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel
Blanket or sleeping bag per person
Portable radio or portable TV and extra batteries
Flashlight and extra batteries
Essential medications
Extra pair of eyeglasses
Extra house keys and car keys
Fire extinguisher — ABC-type
Food, water, leash and carrier for pets
Cash and change
Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes
Sanitation supplies
Large plastic trash bags for waste, tarps and rain ponchos
Large trash cans
Bar soap and liquid detergent
Toothpaste and toothbrushes
Feminine hygiene supplies
Toilet paper
Household bleach
Rubber gloves
What to do before a hurricane makes landfall
Listen to a NOAAWeather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service.
Check your disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed.
Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture).
Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
Fill your car’s gas tank.
Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
Evacuate if advised by authorities. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
Because standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at www.FloodSmart.gov.