Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hurricane Preparedness Week 2015 – Day One

image

 

# 10,084

 

As a native Floridian who grew up on the coast, lived aboard boats for 15 years, and who had a hurricane tracking map tacked to his bedroom wall at an early age, I’ve a hefty respect for these tropical cyclones.   Below you’ll find a map of the hurricanes that crossed Florida during my youth, in the years between 1954-1972.

image

As you can imagine, these made quite an impression on me growing up. Donna, in 1960, was particularly memorable as I was six years old, and it put a pretty good-sized oak tree limb across our roof.


While we haven’t seen a major (Cat 3+) hurricane strike the continental United States in nearly 9 years (Wilma, 2005) - and this year’s forecast is calling or a below average season – it only takes one strong hurricane hitting a populated area to make it a very bad year.

 

So I will do what I’ve done every year since I was old enough to comprehend the wisdom of such things.  I will prepare as if this is the year I get hit (again), and urge that others do the same.

 

All this week, as part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, we’ll be looking at these dangerous storms and how you should prepare for them.  NOAA has a short (1-2 minute) video for each day of this week.

image

 

 

Hurricane season generally builds slowly, with just a few – usually weaker – storms in June and early July.  But as the Atlantic waters warm, the frequency and strength of these tropical systems grows – reaching their peak in mid-September – and then slowly waning through November.

image

 

Storms that form in June and early July generally form in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, or just off the coast of the United States – as did Ana earlier this month.

 

June Tropical Climatology

image

Credit NOAA

 

While generally weaker, these early season storms can still be quite deadly.

 

In 1972 a weak Hurricane Agnes made landfall in Florida on June 19th, trekked north, and dumped more than a foot of rain across the mid-Atlantic states. Of the 122 deaths associated with this storm, only 9 occurred in Florida where Agnes made landfall

image

The rest - 113 fatalities - were caused by inland fresh water flooding a thousand miles north several days later.

 

The moral?You don’t have to live near the coast to be hard hit by a hurricane.

 

When it comes to getting the latest information on hurricanes, your first stop should always be the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. These are the real experts, and the only ones you should rely on to track and forecast the storm.

If you are on Twitter, you should also follow @FEMA, @CraigatFEMA, @NHC_Atlantic, @NHC_Pacific and @ReadyGov.

 

If you haven’t already downloaded the updated Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide, now would be an excellent time to do so.

image

3 comments:

Giga Gerard said...

If you have read "Disaster Response, principles of preparation and coordination", http://sheltercentre.org/sites/default/files/CVMosby_DisasterResponsePrinciples.pdf
you must know that the emergency services in the USA are well prepared to meet natural disasters. Coordination between rescue groups is often the biggest problem, but the resources are there.
A world wide pandemic is a different story. Regular medical services are already stressed and hospitals will likely be overfloaded by patients at the start of a pandemic. Perhaps some less fatalistic reading material can be gotten here:
http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/science/updates.htm

Michael Coston said...

While its true the US has the ability to confront large scale disasters, the need for public preparedness remains.

After Wilma in 2005, many people went days without running water and 2 weeks without electricity in Miami.

The story in New Orleans was even more dire after Katrina. I was there 5 weeks after the storm and I can assure you that city services, utilities, and life were nowhere near ready to return to normal.

Even Super storm Sandy in Nov 2012 taxed Emergency responders, and tested the residents of New York and New Jersey for a week or more.

FEMA, Ready.gov, and just about every Emergency Manager I've ever met freely admit that during a major natural disaster many people will have to fend for themselves for the first 72 hours . . . perhaps longer.

Preparing for such a contingency only makes sense.

Giga Gerard said...

Yes, yes, prepare a jump bag, so you can leave within minutes in case of an emergency.
For medics:
http://www.emory.edu/EEMS/JumpBag.html
For mere mortals, for example:
http://backtoherroots.com/2011/05/28/what-to-include-in-your-emergency-kitjump-bag/