A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, which is a generic term for a low-pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. The cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms and, in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface. Tropical cyclones are classified as follows:
An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds (defined as a 1-minute average wind measured at about 33 ft above the surface) of 38 mph or less
An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph
An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. Hurricanes are categorized according to the strength of their winds using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (see http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php for more information). A Category 1 storm has the lowest wind speeds, while a Category 5 hurricane has the strongest. These are relative terms, because lower category storms can sometimes inflict greater damage than higher category storms, depending on where they strike and the particular hazards they bring. In fact, tropical storms can also produce significant damage and loss of life, mainly due to flooding.
Category 1……Winds 74-95 mph
Category 2……Winds 96-110 mph
Category 3……Winds 111-130 mph
Category 4……Winds 131-155 mph
Category 5……Winds 156 or greater
Each year, an average of ten tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. Six of these storms become hurricanes each year. In an average 3-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the US coastline, killing approximately 50 to 100 people anywhere from Texas to Maine. Of these, two are typically “major” or “intense” hurricanes (a category 3 or higher storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale).
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A HURRICANE WATCH issued for your part of the coast indicates the possibility that your 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 issues 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 on the safest location to be during the storm. The hurricane threat to Southeast Louisiana may be the GREATEST PROBLEM facing the state today. The low-lying coastal parishes are extremely vulnerable to flooding by the hurricane storm surge and heavy rains. In addition, the flat terrain does little to diminish the strength of the damaging wind as hurricanes approach the coast. Add the fact that over a million people live in coastal areas of southeast Louisiana and it’s easy to understand that WE MUST BE PREPARED.
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The time to prepare is before the storm.
Assemble a disaster supply kit to include water, nonperishable food items, first aid supplies, clothing & bedding, tools & emergency supplies, and special items.
Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts. Trim trees and shrubbery.
Review your insurance policy.
Fuel and service your vehicle.
Board up all windows and secure any items that could become flying objects.
Wedge sliding glass doors so they do not lift off track.
Have flashlights and first aid kit available.
Turn refrigerator to the coldest setting in case of power failure and turn off propane tanks.
Have an extra supply of cash on hand.
Evacuate if advised to do so!
Only stay in a home if you have NOT been ordered to evacuate by local officials. Stay inside a well-constructed building. In structures, such as a home, examine the building and plan in advance what you will do if winds become strong. Strong winds produce deadly missiles and structural failure.
Know how to turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities. Post a set of instructions that can be easily followed by others in the family
Fill bathtub and large containers with water for sanitary purposes
Insure that you have a battery-operated radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a supply of canned goods, and a non-electric can opener
Remove objects from around your home that could become dangerous wind-driven projectiles
Freeze water to create ice. Insure adequate supply by storing extra in large bags.
In the event of a major storm, shelters will be opened and maintained by volunteers of the American Red Cross.
What to bring to a shelter:
WHEN TOLD TO EVACUATE REMEMBER TO DO THE FOLLOWING:
Visit Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Department of Homeland Security to learn what kids can do to best prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies. These two links offer special pages For Kids. (Thanks to Jack for this suggestion.)
Are you ready? Here are two games that will test your know-how in a wide range of emergencies and teach you how to build the perfect emergency kit.
Play These Games!
Get ready for some serious adventure! Step into the heart of the action as you help the Heroes face everything from home fires to earthquakes. What should they do? Make the right choice and earn points to get to the next level. Make the wrong choice and watch out! Winners get their own graphic novel!
Build a Kit
You’re on a mission! Go through different locations with Gayle and her friends to find what you need for an emergency kit. Will you pick the correct items? Have fun and build a checklist along the way. Hurry! Your family is counting on you.
Wireless Emergency Alerts
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are emergency messages sent to cell phones by authorized government agencies to let you know about dangerous weather conditions, emergencies, and other local hazards.
Being prepared for an emergency can help you feel safer because you will have the items you need set aside to use. Your family can work on building a disaster kit together to prepare for unexpected events.