Emergency management tracking first real U.S. hurricane threat

Published 7:59 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2019

“We’re watching it.”

The statement comes in response to a growing threat from Hurricane Dorian, still days away from the U.S. mainland, but having ripped through the still recovering U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on Wednesday. According to Chris Newkirk, chief of fire/emergency management of Beaufort County Emergency Services, Dorian is the first storm of the 2019 hurricane season that bears watching.

“It’s still early. We still need to watch this, and there are a lot of factors that could steer it,” Newkirk said.

Dorian is expected to strengthen Thursday night into Friday morning as it travels over the warmer, open western Atlantic waters. As of Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service forecast called for Dorian to track northwestward, likely making landfall in Florida as a category 3 storm over Labor Day weekend. However, the forecast comes with a warning: “Users are reminded not to focus on the exact forecast track, as the average 5-day track error is around 200 miles,” the NWS website states.

Forty-eight hours out, a strong ridge over the western Atlantic should cause Dorian to turn more toward Florida coast.

“The development of all these factors over the coming days will be critical in regards to what impacts, if any, Dorian will bring to North Carolina,” Newkirk wrote in an email Wednesday. “With that said, let’s use this time to our advantage and take the necessary actions to be a prepared and resilient community. Even if we are spared from the impacts of Dorian, we are just now entering the peak of hurricane season, and the forecast of an active Atlantic looms in our future.”

Newkirk recommended considering the following and taking action where necessary:

  • What would you need to do to ensure that you have enough provisions and necessities such as food, water, medicines, etc. for five days?
  • What would have to be done to provide for the safety of outside pets and livestock?
  • What would you need to do in order to secure outdoor items such as patio furniture, grills, trach cans,  propane tanks, plants, loose materials, boats, etc.? How long would it take to accomplish this?
  • What would you do if you had to evacuate? Where would you go? How would you get there? What would you need to bring with you in order to ensure that you would be self-sufficient?
  • What would you do if you lose power for multiple days?
  • How would you communicate with your families, friends and other love ones if you lose cell phone and / or internet services? Do they know your plans?

Newkirk said his office will continue to monitor Dorian as it tracks closer to the U.S. coast.

“I think, from what information is available right now, we stand a very good chance of dodging this bullet, but that doesn’t by any means mean we’re spared from the rest of the hurricane season,” Newkirk said.