Hurricanes generate a series of threats to lives and property. The most obvious is the threat posed to buildings, equipment, and people by the high winds which characterize such storms. However the majority of lives lost and property destruction is actually caused by storm surge & flooding.
This checklist will help you prepare for a hurricane’s effect on your organization, employees and community by highlighting activities you should undertake before, during, and following the event.
When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center issues a watch or warning, use the time available to begin taking the following steps.
Storm Threat Details:
In flat areas, storm surges and extremely high tides may force water many miles inland. Hurricanes can also generate heavy rainfall, another cause of severe flooding over wide areas. A rare, but sometimes deadly effect of Hurricanes can be tornadoes spawned by the larger storms. Though coastal regions are always the most vulnerable to a Hurricane’s effects, flooding and tornadoes may affect areas well inland. You should also prepare for these potential interruptions.
The National Weather Service rates hurricanes by their intensity, using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale of one to five. The scale categorizes storms according to their sustained winds, the storm surges produced, and expected damage. Businesses located within areas of risk should have a hurricane preparedness plan. It is a good idea to develop a plan of action for your business and your staff to be ready for this type of interruption.
Know the Terms:
Tropical Depression: An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 MPH (33 knots) or less. Sustained winds are defined as one-minute average wind measured at about 33 feet (10 meters) above the surface.
Tropical Storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39–73 MPH (34–63 knots). Hurricane: An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 MPH (64 knots) or higher.
Storm Surge: A dome of water pushed onshore by hurricane and tropical storm winds. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50–1000 miles wide. Storm surge is by far the greatest threat to life and property along the immediate coast.
Storm Tide: A combination of a storm surge and the normal tide (i.e., a 15-foot storm surge combined with a 2- foot normal high tide over the mean sea level created a 17-foot storm tide).
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch, usually within 48 hours. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area of the warning, usually within 36 hours of the onset of tropical storm force winds. Complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.
Extreme Wind Warning: Extreme sustained winds of a major hurricane (115 mph or greater), usually associated with the eye wall, are expected to begin within an hour. Take immediate shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.
Short Term Watches and Warnings: These warnings provide detailed information about specific hurricane threats, such as flash floods and tornadoes.