Hurricane - Deep dive in!
A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; while in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as “tropical cyclones” or “severe cyclonic storms”.
“Tropical” refers to the geographical origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively over tropical seas. “Cyclone” refers to their winds moving in a circle, whirling round their central clear eye, with their winds blowing counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and blowing clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
Tropical cyclones typically form over large bodies of relatively warm water. They derive their energy through the evaporation of water from the ocean surface, which ultimately recondenses into clouds and rain when moist air rises and cools to saturation.
Coastal regions are particularly vulnerable to the impact of a tropical cyclone, compared to inland regions. The primary energy source for these storms is warm ocean waters, therefore these forms are typically strongest when over or near water, and weaken quite rapidly over land. Coastal damage may be caused by strong winds and rain, high waves (due to winds), storm surges (due to severe pressure changes), and the potential of spawning tornadoes.
States that are at risk of a hurrican:
States bordering the Atlantic Ocean - Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia.
States bordering the Pacific Ocean - Southwestern United States, Hawaii.
How to be better prepared:
- The first thing is to Restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies. Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. (Get your hurricane kit under "preparedness kits" collection)
At the start of the hurricane season:
- Check thoroughly the roof of your house, hurricane shutters, hooks and latches and repair where necessary.
- Make sure that galvanized sheeting on the roof of your house is properly fastened.
- Keep in stock extra plastic bags and sheets of plastic. Plastic is essential to prevent important documents, paintings, equipment and furniture from getting wet.
- Keep handy a supply of lumbar, plywood, timber, etc. for battening down purposes.
- Trim trees that touch power lines or hang over the house and other buildings.
- Make sure that emergency cooking facilities such as coal stoves are in good working condition as these may be necessary
- Make sure you have a supply of kerosene and coal. Keep coal dry by wrapping in a plastic bag or other waterproof material.
- Latch down securely all small buildings in the yard such as outdoor kitchens, pit latrines, tool sheds, barns, etc.
- Store extra food, especially things that can be eaten without cooking or which need very little preparation. Electricity may be off during a hurricane, leaving you without refrigeration.
- Place emergency food supply in a waterproof container and store in a closed box, cupboard or trunk.
- Make sure you have emergency equipment in your home. These include waterboots, raincoats, flashlights, batteries, portable radio, kerosene lamps and matches. Have simple first-aid equipment such as iodine, bandages, eye lotion, etc. at home.
During a hurricane…
- Do not go outside unless it is absolutely necessary. When the winds get very strong, you are in danger of being hit by flying objects.
- Children should not be taken outside, since they may be in danger of being blown away.
- If you are away from home, remain where you are until the hurricane has passed. Many people have lost their lives trying to go from one place to another.
- Keep a hurricane lamp burning, as it may make the night more tolerable.
- If the house shows signs of breaking up, stay under a table or stand in a sturdy closet.
- Be prepared for material falling from the ceiling.
- If your glass windows have not been boarded up, place a large heavy object in front of the window to protect yourself and others from splintering glass.
- Be calm! Your ability to act logically is important.
- Listen to the radio for information on what is happening.
After the hurricane…
- Seek medical attention at first-aid stations, hospitals or clinics for persons injured during the storm.
- Do not touch loose or dangling electrical wires. Report these to the power company, the nearest police station or parish council.
- Report broken sewer or water mains directly to the parish council, the public works department or water resources authority for your area.
- Water which has been stored should not be used immediately after the storm for washing houses, cars and watering gardens until normal water services have been restored.
- Do not empty water stored in bathtubs or other receptacles until safe drinking water is restored.
- Boil all drinking water until you are sure that a safe water supply has been restored.
- Watch out for fallen trees. Collect fallen branches and other debris and pile them where they can be easily collected.
- Do not go outside barefooted. Avoid wearing open shoes and watch out for broken glass.