Wind isn’t the only threat from a hurricane

Published 6:19 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

Hopefully, by the time you are reading this you have begun the process of making preparations for the expected arrival of Hurricane Florence later this week.

What you need to focus on – other than the obvious which is to keep a close eye on when and where the storm will make landfall – is that no matter the intensity of this tropical system, winds of a hurricane can extend inland for hundreds of miles. Hurricanes can also spawn tornadoes, which add to the destructiveness of the storm. Floods and flash floods generated by torrential rains also cause damage and loss of life.

Following a hurricane, inland streams and rivers can overflow their banks, sometimes days after the storm’s departure, and trigger flooding….with traditional low-lying areas as the greatest risk for damage and even death.

Even more dangerous than the high winds of a hurricane is the storm surge-a dome of ocean water that can be 20 feet at its peak and 50 to 100 miles wide. The surge can devastate coastal communities as it sweeps ashore. Nine out of 10 hurricane fatalities are attributable to the storm surge. That surge also impacts the sounds and tidal rivers of eastern ‘Carolina.

During landfall, a hurricane rainfall of 10 to 15 inches or more is common. If the storm is large and moving slowly, less than 10 mph, the rainfall amounts from a well-organized storm are likely to be even more excessive. This heavy rain usually occurs slightly to the right of the cyclone track and usually occurs between 6 hours before and 6 hours after landfall.

Be sure your emergency supply kits have enough bottled water and non-perishable food to sustain each family member for three to seven days. Include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, rain gear and appropriate footwear. Also include cell phone charger, prescription medicines, copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.

Know your evacuation route, and find out where friends and loved ones will be and how to get in touch with them.

Plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pets and put them in an easily-accessible container.

Prepare your home. Clean out gutters and clear property of debris that could damage buildings in strong winds.

Stay tuned to local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center (NHC), as well as state and local emergency management officials.

Another important preparedness factor is the evacuation or identification of the special needs population. If you or someone you know has a special need which could be potentially life threatening as a result of a storm, you need to make arrangements for transportation and shelter.

Download the Ready NC app or follow NC Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter for weather updates and to learn how you can prepare for the storm.