Equipment to have on hand:
- Several battery-operated radios and spare batteries to help ensure you can receive emergency information. You should have at least one radio that can receive National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio frequencies.
- Have enough flashlights and other battery-powered lights. Ensure a good supply of fresh batteries is on hand throughout hurricane season.
- Compile a disaster supply kit and have this ready for emergencies with canned and other non-perishable foods, water (one gallon per person per day), a manual can opener and other eating utensils, personal hygiene items such as soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, toilet paper, first aid kit, and manual, fire protection equipment or fire extinguisher, rainwear, gloves and blankets.
If you do not have proper hurricane or storm shutters, make sure ahead of time that you have the necessary tools to board up windows and doors. The most dangerous element during a hurricane is the wind, and wind pressure and debris can break windows. Make sure you secure the most vulnerable doors, which are garage doors, skylights, picture windows and double doors that open inwards. You may need tools and equipment such as a circular saw or hand saw, hammer or nail gun, power screwdriver and a wrench.
Have a wide array of brooms, mops, towels and absorbents to remove water. If you can afford it, a generator is good to have in the event of an outage before, during and after the hurricane.
- Plywood (preferably 5/8 inch thick exterior type) to cover large windows and glass doors. You should obtain plywood before hurricane season and precut it to size, mark each panel to identify where it goes, and store it until needed.
- Sufficient lumber to brace inward-opening exterior doors and roll-up doors on the inside. Boards should be 2 x 4’s or larger.
- Rope or chain to secure and anchor outside furnishings and equipment that can’t be moved or taken inside.
- Heavy-duty plastic sheets (4 mil thickness or greater), and a nail or staple gun to be used to make fast emergency roof and window repairs. Plastic sheeting can also be used to cover and protect equipment if there is roof damage or leaks.
- A supply of sandbags to prevent intrusion of water through doorways. Sandbagging takes two people and you should have the bags and the dirt or sand at hand.
- For commercial use, contact a TrapBag® barriers representative to be prepared.
It is recommended to stock up on emergency supplies before hurricane season, since most people run out at the last minute and stores run out of stocks fast once a hurricane watch or warning has been issued.
Hurricanes are very strong storms that bring with them heavy rainfall and winds the intensity of which depends on the category of the hurricane, which can range from 1 to 5, with Category 5 being the most damaging. Flooding is a big concern with a hurricane, especially along coastal areas. Not only is rainfall an issue before and during a hurricane, but high tidal waves also play an important role in flooding.
If you are located close to the Gulf of Mexico or the East Coast, you are most likely aware that hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. It is advisable to prepare for hurricanes before the season, by assessing how you need to protect your home or business and buying supplies.
Make sure that you have flood insurance, since most homeowner´s insurance policies do not cover any damage or loss that is a result of flooding.
Those who live inland, even when they are close to a coastal area, will not experience tidal waves, but the rainfall will be very heavy. Even though the wind forces slow down when a hurricane moves inland, the storm picks up a huge amount of water when it travels over the ocean, and this is released in the form of heavy rainfall that causes significant flooding in many cases.
If you live or have a business inland and live in a hurricane prone area, you should also have flood insurance. The damage caused by flooding from a hurricane can result in damage to carpets, furniture, appliances and electronics, and even to the house or building itself. Large areas can be protected from flooding by using TrapBag® barriers to divert water away.
Following is a description of some hurricanes that have wreaked havoc in the United Stated. The list is not all-inclusive. There are more extensive descriptions at NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Hurricane Wilma 2005
Hurricane Wilma started out in the Caribbean Sea during the second week of October 2005. A surface low-pressure system gradually became defined as a tropical depression on October 15 about 220 miles southeast of Grand Cayman. The cyclone moved erratically westward and southward for two days as it gradually strengthened to turn into a tropical storm. Wilma strengthened into a hurricane and traveled west-northwest on October 18. It became stronger that day and developed a two- to four-mile-wide eye. On October 20, Wilma weakened somewhat and turned northwestward toward the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula. Late on October 21, the slow-moving hurricane made landfall over Cozumel at Category 4 intensity, followed by landfall early the next day over the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula – also at Category 4 intensity. Hurricane Wilma continued to move slowly and it weakened over Yucatan, and emerged over the Gulf of Mexico early on October 23 as a Category 2 hurricane. Later that day it picked up speed and headed northeastward toward southern Florida. Wilma strengthened over the Gulf waters, and its center made landfall near Cape Romano around 1030 UTC October 24 as a Category 3 hurricane. The eye of the hurricane crossed the Florida Peninsula in under five hours, moving into the Atlantic just north of Palm Beach as a Category 2 hurricane. Wilma briefly re-intensified just east of Florida, then weakened. The hurricane moved rapidly northeastward over the western Atlantic and became extra-tropical about 230 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, late on October 25. The remnants of Wilma were absorbed by another low the next day.
Ten tornadoes occurred in Florida due to Wilma. Twenty-two deaths were directly attributed to Wilma: 12 in Haiti, one in Jamaica, four in Mexico, and five in Florida. The hurricane caused severe damage in northeastern Yucatan, including Cancun and Cozumel, and widespread damage estimated at $16.8 billion in southern Florida. Wilma also produced major floods in western Cuba.
For an interactive map of Hurricane Wilma, visit NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Hurricane Katrina 2005
Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in the history of the United States. It was the deadliest hurricane to strike the United States since the Palm Beach-Lake Okeechobee hurricane of September 1928. Katrina was a catastrophe, with losses estimated at $75 billion in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi coast - and is the costliest U. S. hurricane on record as of this writing in early 2012.
This devastating tropical cyclone formed from the combination of a tropical wave and the mid-level remnants of Tropical Depression Ten. It began as a tropical depression on August 23 about 200 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. It moved northwestward, and became Tropical Storm Katrina the day after, around 75 miles east-southeast of Nassau. The tropical storm moved through the northwestern Bahamas on August 24-25, and then turned westward toward southern Florida. Katrina became a hurricane just before making landfall near the Miami-Dade/Broward county line during the evening of August 25. The hurricane moved southwestward across southern Florida into the eastern Gulf of Mexico on August 26. Katrina then strengthened significantly, reaching Category 5 intensity on August 28, in the Gulf. Later that day, maximum sustained winds reached 175 mph. Katrina turned to the northwest and then north, with the center making landfall near Buras, Louisiana, on August 29 with a Category 3 intensity. It continued to move north, and then made a second landfall near the Louisiana/Mississippi border, also as a Category 3.
Katrina brought hurricane conditions to southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama. Other than the strong winds, storm surge flooding of 25 to 28 feet above normal tide level took place along portions of the Mississippi coast, with storm surge flooding of 10 to 20 feet above normal tide levels along the southeastern Louisiana coast. Hurricane conditions also occurred over southern Florida. Katrina caused 10 to 14 inches of rain over southern Florida, and eight to 12 inches of rain along its track inland from the northern Gulf coast. Thirty-three tornadoes were reported from the storm.
Hurricane Katrina is responsible for approximately 1,200 reported deaths. Katrina caused severe damage of catastrophic proportions in southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. The storm surge along the Mississippi coast destroyed buildings and structures, and surge damage extended several miles inland. The surge overtopped and breached levees in the New Orleans metropolitan area, which caused the inundation of much of the city and its eastern suburbs. Wind damage from Katrina extended well inland into northern Mississippi and Alabama. The hurricane also caused wind and water damage in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
For an interactive map of Hurricane Katrina visit NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Hurricane Jeanne 2004
Jeanne started out as a tropical wave, and it escalated into a tropical depression on September 13 near the Leeward Islands. It strengthened to a tropical storm the next day. Moving west-northwestward, Jeanne struck Puerto Rico on the 15th with 70 m.p.h. winds and then escalated to hurricane level right before making landfall in the Dominican Republic. Jeanne hovered over the island for around 36 hours, causing torrential rainfall before it emerged into the Atlantic north of the island. Jeanne moved slowly through and north of the southeastern Bahamas over the next five days while it gradually regained the strength it had lost over Hispaniola. By the 23rd of September Jeanne turned westward. It again strengthened and became a major hurricane on the 25th while the center moved over Abaco and then Grand Bahama Island. Early on the 26th, the center of Jeanne's 60-mile-wide eye crossed the Florida east coast near Stuart, on the Treasure Coast, at virtually the same spot that Hurricane Frances had come ashore only three weeks earlier. Maximum winds at the time of landfall are estimated to be near 120 m.p.h.
Jeanne weakened as it moved across central Florida, becoming a tropical storm during the afternoon of the 26th near Tampa, and then weakening to a depression a day later over central Georgia.
Jeanne caused heavy rainfall accumulations in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, with nearly 24 inches reported on the Puerto Rico island of Vieques. Rains from the cyclone produced historic floods in Puerto Rico, and deadly flashfloods and mudslides in Haiti, where more than 3,000 people were killed and around 200,000 were homeless. Three people died in Florida, and one each in Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Virginia. In the United States, damage was estimated to be near $6.9 billion.
For an interactive map of Hurricane Jeanne, visit NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Hurricane Charley 2004
Hurricane Charley started out as a tropical wave, and developed into a tropical depression on August 9, 2004, about 115 miles south-southeast of Barbados. The depression strengthened to a tropical storm early the next day in the eastern Caribbean, and turned into a hurricane on the 11th near Jamaica. Charley's center passed about 40 miles southwest of the southwest coast of Jamaica, and then passed about 15 miles northeast of Grand Cayman and reached Category 2 strength on the 12th. Charley made a turn to the north-northwest and strengthened further, to make landfall in western Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 m.p.h. maximum winds. Charley weakened after that, but then while over the Gulf of Mexico, the hurricane turned north-northeastward and accelerated toward the southwest coast of Florida as it began to intensify rapidly. The next day, the maximum winds had increased to near 125 m.p.h., and three hours later had increased to 145 m.p.h. – a Category 4. Charley made landfall with maximum winds near 150 m.p.h. on the southwest coast of Florida just north of Captiva Island around 3:45 p.m. An hour later, Charley's eye passed over Punta Gorda. The hurricane then crossed central Florida, passing near Kissimmee and Orlando. Charley still had hurricane intensity around midnight when its center cleared the northeast coast of Florida near Daytona Beach. After moving into the Atlantic, Charley came ashore again near Cape Romain, South Carolina near midday on the 14th as a Category 1 hurricane.
Charley was a small hurricane at its Florida landfall, with its maximum winds and storm surge located only about six to seven miles from the center. This helped minimize the extent and amplitude of the storm surge, which likely did not exceed 7 feet. But the hurricane's violent winds devastated Punta Gorda and neighboring Port Charlotte. Rainfall amounts were not extreme at less than 8 inches. Charley also produced 16 tornadoes in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. The total U. S. damage is estimated to be near $15 billion, making Charley the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Casualties were surprisingly low, given the strength of the hurricane and the destruction that resulted. Charley was directly responsible for ten deaths in the United States. There were also four deaths in Cuba and one in Jamaica.
For an interactive map of Hurricane Charley, visit NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Hurricane Andrew 1992
Hurricane Andrew was one of the most destructive United States hurricanes of record. It started as a tropical wave that emerged from the west coast of Africa on August 14. The wave created a tropical depression on August 16, which became Tropical Storm Andrew the next day. Andrew moved slowly thereafter, and almost dissipated on August 20 due to vertical wind shear. By August 21, Andrew was midway between Bermuda and Puerto Rico and turning westward. It strengthened rapidly, and it reached Category 4 status on the 23rd. After briefly weakening over the Bahamas, Andrew regained Category 4 status as it stormed across south Florida on August 24. The hurricane continued westward into the Gulf of Mexico where it gradually turned northward. This motion brought Andrew to the central Louisiana coast on August 26 as a Category 3 hurricane. Andrew then turned northeastward, eventually merging with a frontal system over the Mid-Atlantic states on August 28.
Andrew was the third most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States. Its peak winds in south Florida were not directly measured due to destruction of the measuring instruments. Andrew produced a 17-foot storm surge near the landfall point in Florida, while storm tides of at least 8 feet inundated portions of the Louisiana coast. Andrew also produced a killer tornado in southeastern Louisiana.
Andrew is responsible for 23 deaths in the United States and three more in the Bahamas. The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in south Florida. The vast majority of the damage in Florida was due to the winds. Damage in the Bahamas was estimated at $250 million.
For an interactive map of Hurricane Andrew, visit NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Hurricane Donna 1960
One of the most famous hurricanes in history, Hurricane Donna was first a tropical wave moving off the African coast on August 29, 1960. It then strengthened into a tropical storm over the tropical Atlantic the next day and a hurricane on September 1. Donna traveled west-northwestward for the following five days, passing over the northern Leeward Islands on the 4th and 5th as a Category 4 hurricane and then to the north of Puerto Rico later on the 5th. Hurricane Donna turned westward on September 7 and passed through the southeastern Bahamas. It turned northwestward on the 9th, which brought the hurricane to the middle Florida Keys the next day at Category 4 intensity. Donna then curved northeastward, crossing the Florida Peninsula on September 11, followed by eastern North Carolina (Category 3) on the 12th, and the New England states (Category 3 on Long Island and Categories 1 to 2 elsewhere) on the 12th and 13th. The storm became extra-tropical over eastern Canada on the 13th.
Donna is the only hurricane of record to produce hurricane-force winds in Florida, the Mid-Atlantic states, and New England. Donna caused storm surges of up to 13 feet in the Florida Keys and 11 feet surges along the southwest coast of Florida. Four- to eight-foot surges were reported along portions of the North Carolina coast, with 5- to 10-foot surges along portions of the New England coast. Heavy rainfalls of 10 to 15 inches occurred in Puerto Rico, 6 to 12 inches in Florida, and 4 to 8 inches elsewhere along the path of the hurricane.
Donna was the fifth strongest hurricane of record to hit the United States. It was responsible for 50 deaths in the United States. One hundred and fourteen deaths were reported from the Leeward Islands to the Bahamas, including 107 in Puerto Rico caused by flooding from the heavy rains. The hurricane.
Hurricane tracking is done by computer models that take into account all kinds of data, such as the atmospheric conditions close to the storm and even many miles away. When plotting the possible paths of a storm, water temperatures, currents, wind factors and barometric pressure are all used for the computer model to be able to predict what the storm is going to do in the next hours and even days.
National Hurricane Center
The National Hurricane Center contains all the information you may need about preparing for a hurricane, tracking hurricanes, hurricane hunters, and all kinds of alerts you can sign up to. There are e-mail and text alerts for hurricane watches and alerts for your area, and many more services that are invaluable in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane.
NOAA studies everything from the sun´s surface to the depths of the ocean. It is heavily involved in providing weather forecasts, to include hurricane information, and storm warnings. This is vital for the population at large and especially for fisheries, coastal restoration and marine commerce. NOAA uses the latest technology to serve and protect citizens.