Because Hurricane Season began June 1 and continues through November 30th, FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, says “The tornadoes that devastated the South and the large amount of flooding we’ve seen this spring should serve as a reminder that disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. As we move into this hurricane season it’s important to remember that FEMA is just part of an emergency management team that includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal governments, the private sector and most importantly the public.”  Now is the time to get your plan together for what you and your family would do if disaster strikes.  Businesses and families should be ready for all types of emergencies:

Climate factors considered for this outlook are:

  • The continuing high activity era. Since 1995, the tropical multi-decadal signal has brought ocean and atmospheric conditions conducive for development in sync, leading to more active Atlantic hurricane seasons.
  • Warm Atlantic Ocean water. Sea surface temperatures where storms often develop and move across the Atlantic are up to two degrees Fahrenheit warmer-than-average.
  • La Niña, which continues to weaken in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is expected to dissipate in June, but its impacts such as reduced wind shear are expected to continue into the hurricane season.

NOAA expects that there will be twelve to eighteen named storms, six to ten could become hurricanes, three to six becoming major hurricanes.  Categories of hurricanes are as follow:

  • Category 1 – maximum sustained wind speed of 74-95 mph.  Damage category – minimal. 
  • Category 2 – Maximum sustained wind speed of 96-110 mph, with moderate damage category. 
  • Category 3 – maximum sustained wind speed of 111-130 mph,  with extensive damage category. 
  • Category 4 – maximum sustained wind speed of 131-155 mph, with extreme damage category. 
  • Category 5 – maximum sustained wind speed above 155, catastrophic damage category.  There have been only three Category 5 hurricanes in the United States since records were kept: Labor Day Hurricane (1935) in the Florida Keyes; Hurricane Camille (1969), near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and Hurricane Andrew (1992) in Florida.

Have you ever wondered who decides on the names of the Hurricanes?  A pre-approved list of Atlantic Ocean tropical storm/hurricane names is decided by the National Hurricane Center.  Beginning in 1953, the NHC’s list consisted of only female  names.  Since 1979, the lists alternate between male and female; however, no names beginning with a “Q” or “U” are used.  Six lists are rotated but when a hurricane is so devastating, the name is retired and given a new one.  This year’s list is from the 2005 one; however, four of them have been retired. Here are the names for 2011; let’s hope they run out of storms before they run out of names!

Arlene; Bret; Cindy; Don (replaces Dennis); Emily; Franklin; Gert; Harvey; Irene; Jose; Katia (replaces Katrina); Lee; Maria; Nate; Ophelia; Philippe; Rina (replaces Rita); Sean (Replaces Stan); Tammy; Vince; Whitney (replaces Wilma). 

When warned, already have your plans underway:

  • Secure your home;
  • Have your papers in order;
  • Have a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries and cellphone;
  • Have all medicines ready;
  • Notify next of kin or friends you may need to stay with them;
  • Plan for any elderly members of your family and your pets;
  • Have adequate supplies of water and non-perishable foods;
  • Do not return to your town until authorities give permission; downed power lines could cause injuries.

For those who have already gone through floods and tornadoes, as well as everyone else, let’s hope and pray the tropical storms will just disappear into the air – they aren’t welcome ashore!

Sources: FEMA, NOAA, National Weather Service


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