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Hurricane Guide

 

How much do you know about hurricanes? None of us want to think about stormy days in all this sunshine but it is best to be prepared.  First thing, just what classifies as a hurricane?

North Carolina Department of Transportation, Insurance and Public Safety says there are 5 categories.

Here is a breakdown according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale:

1. Category 1 – Winds 74 to 95 mph with storm surge 4 to 5 feet.  Minimal damage.  Leaves an abnormal rise of sea along a shore as the result, primarily, of the winds from a storm.
2. Category 2 – Winds 96 to 110 mph with storm surge 6 to 8 feet.  Moderate damage.  No real damage to building structures.  Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees.  Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.
3. Category 3 – Winds 111 to 130 mph with storm surge 9 to 12 feet.  Extensive damage.  Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings.  Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees blown down.  Considerable damage to mobile homes and piers.  Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.
4. Category 4 – Winds 135 to 155 mph with storm surge 13 to 18 feet. Extreme damage. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures.  Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down.  Mobile homes are destroyed.  Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering of floating debris.
5. Category 5 – Winds more than 155 mph with storm surge higher than 18 feet.  More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences.  Shrubs, trees and most signs are blown down.  Complete destruction of mobile homes.  Extensive damage to doors and windows.  Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore.  Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16km) of the shoreline may be required.  These surge values are averages for these storm categories.  Actual surge depths may be much greater.

Weather Terms

Have you ever wondered just what a tropical depression is and why do we care about it?  Here is some explanations for each weather terms associated with storms along the coast.

1. Tropical Depression:  An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of <39 or <35 knots.
2. Tropical Storm:  An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (35 to 63 knots).
3. Hurricane:  An intense tropical weather system with a well-defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mpg (64 knots) or higher.  Hurricanes are produced by the warmth and energy found in tropical atmospheres. Gaining strength over warm seas, the storms sweep inland, bringing high tides and spawning tornadoes, torrential rains and floods.  In an average year, 10 tropical storms, six of which become hurricanes, develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.  Many of these remain over the ocean; however, about five hurricanes strike the United States coastline every three years.  Of these five, two will be major hurricanes, category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Sale.
4. Tropical Storm Watch:  Tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch, usually within 36 hours.
5. Tropical Storm Warning:  Tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area of the warning, usually within 24 hours.
6. Hurricane Watch:  Hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch, usually within 36 hours.  During a Hurricane Watch, prepare to take immediate action to protect your family and property in case a Hurricane Warning is issued.
7. Hurricane Warning:  Hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the warning, usually within 24 hours.  Complete all storm preparations and evacuate if directed by local officials.