Hurricane activity for the next decade
If you know anybody who lives in hurricane areas, you know that they have been fleeing hurricanes more and more frequently than in the past. We have heard a number of explanations of this, with our three favorites being that it is the will of God (always a safe guess), or global warming (environmentally trendy), or our sisters-in-law’s fault (most likely). While all of these explanations have a certain charm, the recorded history of weather patterns in this hemisphere indicate that multi-decadal tropical signals occur in 20 to 30 year cycles. Two or three decades are a long time, certainly long enough for most non-meteorologists to be unaware of the cyclical nature of hurricane ferocity. The last slow period ended in 1995. Or, to put it another way, we have been in high cycle since 1995, and will therefore be in high cycle until 2015 if we are lucky, and 2025 if we are unlucky.
Since we are going to be stuck in high cycle for another ten or twenty years, it behooves us to pay attention to the recommendations of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Agency (http://www.noaa.gov/), or NOAA (sounds like Noah). NOAA is the federal agency that will, in fact, tell you when it is going to rain for forty days and forty nights.
NOAA recommendations are fourfold:
1. Know the dangers
Know if you live in an evacuation area. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
2. Develop a plan
Have a written plan based on the knowledge of your potential risk. At the beginning of hurricane season (1 June), check your supplies, replace batteries and use food stocks on a rotating basis.
3. Secure your home when a hurricane comes.
During hurricane season, monitor what is going on in the tropics (we favor http://www. intellicast.com/), and monitor NOAA Weather Radio. You can find information on NOAA Weather Radio at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr, and a list of suppliers of weather radios at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/nwrrcvr.htm.
There are two levels of alert:
A HURRICANE WATCH issued for your part of the coast indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. This watch should trigger your family’s disaster plan, and protective measures should be initiated, especially those actions that require extra time such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, etc.
A HURRICANE WARNING issued for your part of the coast indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Once this warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.
4. Evacuate your home when needed
If a storm threatens, heed the advice from local authorities. Evacuate if ordered. Execute your family plan.