The hurricane warning system is increasingly effective in providing warnings in time for people to move inland when hurricanes threaten. However, it is becoming more difficult to evacuate people from densely populated areas. Roads are easily overcrowded, particularly during summer tourist season. The problem is compounded by the complacency of people who do not understand the awesome power of the storm. Complacency and delayed action could result in needless loss of life and damage to property.
Get a Plan!
Before a Hurricane
To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Know your surroundings.
- Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
The Forecast Process
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is responsible for forecasting all tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins around North America. The NHC forecasts the track, intensity, size, and structure of tropical cyclones, storm surges, rainfall, and tornadoes associated with tropical cyclones, and the likelihood of tropical cyclone formation within 48 hours. The overall skill of these forecasts is shown in the section on Hurricane Forecast Model Accuracy. Once a tropical cyclone forms, NHC staff follows a set of procedures to generate a set of forecast products and then communicate those products outside of NHC every six hours. While the NHC forecast process is the focus here, other agencies responsible for tropical cyclone forecasting in other ocean basins [link to Hurricane Forecast Regions and Centers] follow similar procedures, but their procedures are tailored to the needs of their areas of responsibility and are guided by the observational, modeling, and forecast dissemination capabilities of those areas.
Coastal residents understand the dangers associated with hurricanes — heavy rainfall, high wind and storm surge can cause a host of problems. But did you know that the majority of hurricane-related deaths in the United States do not occur along the coast?
When these powerful storms move over land, they lose wind strength but continue to dump massive amounts of rain into streams, rivers and lakes — posing a serious threat of inland flooding. These floods account for more than 50 percent of hurricane-related deaths each year.
Hurricane Agnes in 1972 made landfall as a Cat 1 storm on the Florida panhandle and was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm. Unfortunately, Agnes collided with a low pressure system over the mid-Atlantic (which is the usual story with the big inland flooding cases) and heavy rains were the result. 122 people were killed in the floods that spread up and down the eastern US. Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in a short period of time across parts of West Virginia and total storm damages across several states topped $6 billion.
[via Claire Taylor, The Advertiser ]
Left out of the equation is the potential risk of storm surge flooding, which doesn’t necessarily correlate with the wind speed.
That’s changing this hurricane season. With each storm, the National Hurricane Center will generate interactive maps residents can use to predict how much storm surge flooding their communities might see.
“One of the biggest misnomers was people would try to correlate a Category 4 storm with a certain amount of storm surge,” said James Brinkley, storm surge operations manager with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
While it’s no secret that hurricanes are dangerous and can cause serious destruction, a hurricane’s specific composition is less commonly known.
From a hurricane’s warm core to spiral bands, examine the following infographic to learn the basic components behind one of the most powerful forces of Mother Nature.