Hurricane season begins June 1

| May 10, 2013 | 0 Comments
Big storms may be coming in August and September, with a 38 percent higher probability of being "intense."

Big storms may be coming in August and September, with a 38 percent higher probability of being “intense.”

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii
Public Affairs Office

There are two keys to weather safety: preparing for the risks and acting on those preparations when alerted.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii officials say that Soldiers, families and civilians need to prepare now for a hurricane season that has a 38 percent probability of being above average.

Hurricanes are areas of warm air and low pressure that rotate in a counterclockwise direction in the northern hemisphere. They form over areas of warm ocean. Those passing over Hawaii are usually generated to the west of the lower Baja peninsula of Mexico.

The Pacific can expect 25.6 tropical storms and 16 hurricanes (also known in the Pacific as tropical depressions, cyclones or typhoons), with about half being intense, meaning sustained winds of 109 mph or higher), according to Dr. Adam Lea and Professor Mark Saunders, University College London’s Department of Space and Climate Physics.

Possibly intense hurricanes are predicted to hit in August and September.

Because hurricanes make many turns along their path, it’s difficult to predict where they will go next. Weather satellites and flights by specially equipped aircraft have made prediction considerably more reliable.

“Always be prepared; prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It is a matter of life,” said Joe Barker, USAG-HI emergency response manager.

Historically, Oahu has been hit by few hurricanes.

“You can look at a forecast and say a season is not going to be bad or say we are too inland to get much flooding or wind, but it only takes one hurricane to hit you to make your area bad,” Barker added.

Oahu residents need to enter the season prepared with a severe weather kit, which includes plenty of nonperishable food items that do not need to be heated up, small tools, first aid, flashlights and batteries, and a several day supply of medication.

Before the storm, get plenty of fuel for vehicles and generators, a supply of water for cleaning and cooking.

Pay attention to local weather reports on radio, television or the Internet, and keep important papers and valuables in a safe place, such as in a waterproof lockbox.

According to www.ready.gov/hurricanes, never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

Tropical Language

Know your tropical terms? A tropical cyclone (TC) is a warm-core, non-frontal, synoptic-scale cyclen, originating over tropical or subtropical waters, with organized, deep convection and a closed-surface wind circulation about a well-defined center.

Once formed, a TC is maintained by the extraction of heat energy from the ocean at high temperature and heat export at the low temperatures of the upper troposphere.

Wind speeds below use the U.S. one-minute average:

Tropical depression: A TC with maximum sustained surface of 38 mph or less.

Tropical storm: A TC with winds of 39-73 mph.

Hurricane: A TC in which the maximum sustained surface wind is 74 mph or more.

Storm surge: An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm, and whose height is the difference between the observed sea level and the level that would’ve occurred in the absence of the cyclone.

Storm tide: The actual level of seawater resulting from the astronomic tide combined with the storm surge.

Hurricane warning: Issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.

Hurricane watch: Similar to a warning, except issued 48 hours in advance.

To prepare for a hurricane, here are several measures that people should follow:

• Make a family communications plan.

• Identify reservoirs and dams near your residence, and determine whether they pose a hazard.

• Be sure trees and shrubs around the home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.

• Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.

• Bring in or secure all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and other items that are not tied down so they do not become a hazard.

• Set the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed in case of power outages. Freeze water in containers and place in freezer to help keep food frozen.

• Turn off propane tanks.

• Close all interior doors, and secure and brace external doors.

• Watch pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Be sure to have enough food and water for pets.

• Fill the bathtub and other containers with water, in case the tap water is contaminated, for sanitary purposes such as cooking, cleaning and flushing toilets.

(Editor’s note: Sara Martin, Fort Rucker, Ala., contributed to this story.)

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