Monday, August 17, 2009

Are You Prepared for Tropical Weather ?

We’ve gone from a quiet start to three named tropical systems for our 2009 hurricane season for our Atlantic basin over a very short period of time!

When meteorologists discuss wind speeds of tropical systems and their associated ‘categories’, we’re referring to the Saffir-Simpson wind scale which is used for storms in the Atlantic and eastern North and Central Pacific basins:

• Tropical Storm
Winds 39-73 mph
• Category 1 Hurricane — winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt)
No real damage to buildings. Damage to unanchored mobile homes. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal flooding and minor pier damage.
- Examples: Irene 1999 and Allison 1995
• Category 2 Hurricane — winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt)
Some damage to building roofs, doors and windows. Considerable damage to mobile homes. Flooding damages piers and small craft in unprotected moorings may break their moorings. Some trees blown down.
- Examples: Bonnie 1998, Georges(FL & LA) 1998 and Gloria 1985
• Category 3 Hurricane — winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt)
Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings. Large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly built signs destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain may be flooded well inland.
- Examples: Keith 2000, Fran 1996, Opal 1995, Alicia 1983 and Betsy 1965
• Category 4 Hurricane — winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt)
More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences. Major erosion of beach areas. Terrain may be flooded well inland.
- Examples: Hugo 1989 and Donna 1960
• Category 5 Hurricane — winds 156 mph and up (135+ kt)
Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Flooding causes major damage to lower floors of all structures near the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas may be required.
- Examples: Andrew(FL) 1992, Camille 1969 and Labor Day 1935

While we do not have any tropical system-related watches or warnings at this moment for North Carolina at the moment, it never hurts to have some resources already in your arsenal to keep ahead of the storm:

News 14 Carolina and Weather on the Ones - always a great first start for updates on any changing situations. We are a 24-hour news station, so you can get news/weather information anytime. We have a number of links to the left of the home page, including one specifically for our hurricane season . A new feature on the Weather on the Ones page is our interactive radar . I’ve spent some time playing with it and I’m finding this to be very useful!

Also, Time Warner Cable subscribers can also access information via Carolina On Demand digital channel 1234. By selecting ' Hurricane Season' you can get a number of stories with information brought to you by your Weather on the Ones team of meteorologists to keep you ahead of the storm.

Links to Local / County government Emergency Management related sites - always useful for very localized information for you. Not only links you to various county and state emergency management agencies, but also to sites for NC Department of Transportation, the NC Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, and USACE North Carolina Storm Surge maps and information.

Ready North Carolina - a campaign via the NC Division of Emergency Management (part of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety) that provides residents of North Carolina with necessary print/ video information in English and Spanish to prepare for all types of emergencies.

The website for the NC Department of Health, Safety and Human Services - provides links to many necessary services like the Red Cross and North Carolina State Animal Response Team (SART)

Finally, the NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources - provides daily situation reports when necessary.

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