Hurricane: Prepare, Protect, Survive

Weather Education

Tracking the Tropics Special

More WFLA Tracking the Tropics

There is no outlook for hurricane season that can tell you what to expect so plan for the extreme that can happen.

Leslie Chapman Henderson, FLASH
Very important thing: flood insurance. If you live where it rains, it can flood. Consider flood insurance whether you are in or outside the flood zone. Get it when the skies are blue, because there’s a 30-day waiting period.

Lorenzo Ogden, FEMA
If all your appliances on the first level, building a two-foot pad, and elevating those items can help. If you get 3 inches of water in your home, it gets into the motor of those things, and they can be destroyed.

Dr. Samantha Montano, “Disasterologist”
Sometimes weather events start turning into a disaster. They grow in impacts and there are more needs than a local community can handle. Sometimes events get so big that they are actually catastrophic, managing them becomes really difficult.

Dr. Jeanette Sutton, U. of Kentucky
It’s absolutely common that people don’t believe it’s going to happen to them, especially if they’ve gone through previous storms where it didn’t happen or it’s a close call. So, people recall that experience rather than thinking about the worst-case scenario where everyone can be affected.

Dr. Tyra Brown Harris, NOAA – NWS
Don’t want to wait until a watch/warning timeframe where you are frantic, it’s chaotic and you’re trying to figure out, “what do I need to be prepared.” Get your mind wrapped around this is the season.

Get a weather radio, and a battery-powered portable digital TV. Add a cellphone with a weather app. Cash, Gas, non-perishable food, and bottled water can save your life. Copies of insurance, all important legal documents, and pictures of all your stuff, saved on your phone or flash drive could make a recovery easier.

Even with safety kit materials, you need a plan. Past storms have lessons. 2018 is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Georges. Rainfall totals included an astonishing 38 inches in Munson, FL. Storm surge backed up the rivers. George was a category 2 hurricane at landfall, with 100-110 mph sustained winds and gusts over 170 mph.

Destructive storm surge wiped 40 homes off Dauphin Island and damaged 80 more. Hundreds of homes, condos, and businesses were damaged along the coastline in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Newer construction and properly installed materials make homes and buildings safer, but so does research.

Erik Salna, FIU: We’re the only research facility in the entire world where we can go to category 5 hurricane strength- over 157 mph. In addition to the wind, we bring in water. So it’s the closest thing to what mother nature creates in the real world

Protect your door and window openings. Some window shutters are for only for decorative purposes only and will not provide any protection during a storm.

Traditional wooden shutters will protect your home from a storm, if closed. There are accordion style and roll down shutters that will all help you out. Another new option is storm curtains. These are sheets of Kevlar fabric that can be stretched across windows and provide a relatively easy and light weight way to cover windows before the storm arrives. Don’t tape windows. It’s a myth that taping windows helps them.

The 2017 season was active, with 17 named storms, and 10 hurricanes. 6 of those hurricanes were major. The season was deadly and costly. There were 4 hurricanes that directly impacted the US.

The first storm we noticed was tropical storm Cindy. 4 Tornadoes touched down in the News 5 area. Tropical Storm Cindy took a tourist’s life in Ft. Morgan when a log washed ashore.

Harvey mad landfall near Rockport Texas as a category 4. Harvey hovered over southeast Texas. The slow motion and abundance of tropical moisture meant unprecedented rainfall. There were several reports over 48 inches of rain. The highest report was 5 feet! Harvey only ranks behind Katrina in costliest hurricanes to impact the United States.

Irma will go down as one of the strongest hurricanes on record. Irma maxed out at 185 mph, but it spent 37 hours at this strength. Irma made 7 different landfalls… The most significant was the first one on the island of Barbuda. Winds were estimated to be nearly 180 MPH! The entire population was forced off the island. 95% of the islands buildings were either destroyed or damaged. Irma also made a landfall on the Virgin Islands.

After Irma moved away from Cuba it weakened. Irma made landfall on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a category 4. It hit mainland Florida on Marco Island near Naples as a category 3. After making landfall the center of the storm stayed over the Florida Peninsula which aided the rather quick weakening. Uncertainty with the track concerning the Florida peninsula lead to a large evacuation. This meant extreme traffic congestion along major routes in and out of Florida, plus even here in Mobile.

Now the last major hurricane, Maria. At its peak, Maria had estimated winds of more than 175 MPH. Maria’s first landfall was over the Leeward Island of Dominica as a category 5. After moving past Dominica, Maria barreled towards Puerto Rico. Maria made landfall on the southeastern side of Puerto Rico on September 20th as a category 4.

While Maria had powerful winds the worst part was the flooding. Current estimates have Maria as the third costliest US Hurricane. Maria crippled most of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. More than 80% of the power poles on the Island were lost. Maria caused a humanitarian crisis that is still going on to this day. While conditions have gotten better, there is still a ton of work to do in Puerto Rico. At least 65 were killed by Maria in Puerto Rico, but the toll will probably increase.

Now for the hurricane that came through our neighborhoods. Nate was a fast-mover. At times, it was moving northward around 30 mph! Nate’s main landfall was October 8th as a category 1 near Biloxi. Storm surge caused damage from Gulfport to Mobile Bay. Near Biloxi and Ocean Springs storm surge of 9ft was estimated. In Pascagoula, the surge was just above 6 feet and in the Bayou, it was over 5 ft. Along with the surge in Bayou La Batre and Coden, Nate caused inflicted heavy damage to Dauphin Island, especially to the typically vulnerable west end.

Based on the impact of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate, those names have been retired.

(Linda Graham) What is the best way to protect your windows during a hurricane?
Use plywood or storm curtains to reinforce your windows

(Beau Young) What is the deadliest part of a hurricane?
Flooding rains are actually the most deadly part of a hurricane. We see more deaths caused by freshwater flooding than anything else during a hurricane.

(Greg Stover) After the storm, it is okay to eat food that exposed to floodwater, true or false?
FALSE, you should throw out any food including canned items that were not maintained at a proper temperature or have been exposed to floodwaters. Floodwater can contain harmful bacteria and sewage.

(Logan Reeves) Is it safe to drive through floodwater if it doesn’t look too deep?
12 inches of water can float smaller SUVs and 18 inches of water can float larger vehicles such as full-size SUVs. Floodwater can also hide damage to the road beneath the water.

(Connie Snow) When is the official Hurricane Season?
The official Hurricane Season is June 1st-November 30th

(Donna Martin) If you are outside of the hurricane forecast cone, then you are safe from the storm, true or false?
FALSE, the cone shows only where the eye of the storm is most likely to fall. Significant damage is possible well outside of the cone. How far outside of the cone major impacts will be felt also depends on the size of the hurricane.

(Brad Allen) You can tell how bad a hurricane will be based on its category, true or false?
FALSE, you have to look at the speed of the storm and the width of the wind field in the storm along with the max wind speed to determine the potential for damage. The slower a storm moves, the more rainfall you can anticipate leading to flooding. The larger the width of the wind field in the storm, the more widespread the wind damage will be, and the more storm surge will occur.

Check out wkrg.com in the tropical section for full lists of what you need to know this hurricane season and for stories and videos on past storms. Follow WKRG on Facebook and Twitter, and download our news and weather apps.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Videos

More Video

More Local News

More Mobile County
More Baldwin County
More Northwest Florida

Don't Miss

Trending Stories