Sunday, August 28, 2011

On your mark, Get Ready, Get Set, GO?!

Hurricane Basics

Hurricane Fran
Hurricane Fran 1996

The ingredients for a hurricane include a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds aloft. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains, and floods we associate with this phenomenon.

Each year, an average of eleven tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. Six of these storms become hurricanes each year. In an average 3-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the US coastline, killing approximately 50 to 100 people anywhere from Texas to Maine. Of these, two are typically "major" or "intense" hurricanes (a category 3 or higher storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).

Can you AIM A HURRICANE? try here

Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that

form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes gather heat and energy through contact with warm ocean waters. Evaporation from the seawater increases their power.

Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction

around an "eye." Hurricanes have winds at least 74 miles per hour. When they come onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surges are very dangerous and a major reason why you MUST stay away from the ocean during a hurricane warning or hurricane.

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Storm Surge, the Coastal Killer.

NOAA Weather  Radio

Click image to activate Storm Surge the coastal killer. For more animation click here ( Surge animation with shallow continental shelf) or here (steep continental shelf).

Surge Vulnerability Facts

(evacuation map of Pinellas County)

  • From 1990-2008, population density increased by 32% in Gulf coastal counties, 17% in Atlantic coastal counties, and 16% in Hawaii (U.S. Census Bureau 2010)
  • Much of the United States' densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level
  • Over half of the Nation's economic productivity is located within coastal zones
  • 72% of ports, 27% of major roads, and 9% of rail lines within the Gulf Coast region are at or below 4 ft elevation (CCSP, SAP 4-7)
  • A storm surge of 23 ft has the ability to inundate 67% of interstates, 57% of arterials, almost half of rail miles, 29 airports, and virtually all ports in the Gulf Coast area (CCSP SAP 4-7)

Family Disaster Plan

check markDiscuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.

check markLocate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.

check markDetermine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.

check markHave an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.

check markMake a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.

check markPost emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.

check markCheck your insurance coverage - flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.

check markStock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit.

check markUse a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.

check markTake First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.

Disaster Supply Kit

Check boxWater - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days

Check boxFood - at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel
— paper plates / plastic utensils

Check boxBlankets / Pillows, etc.

Check boxClothing - seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes

Check boxFirst Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs

Check boxSpecial Items - for babies and the elderly

Check boxToiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes

Check boxFlashlight / Batteries

Check boxRadio - Battery operated and NOAA weather radio

Check boxTelephones - Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set

Check boxCash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards - Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods

Check boxKeys

Check boxToys, Books and Games

Check boxImportant documents - in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.

Check boxTools - keep a set with you during the storm

Check boxVehicle fuel tanks filled

Check boxPet care items
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash

Are you ready