Preparation for hurricane season begins now

| May 16, 2014 | 0 Comments
Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane Preparedness

Sarah Pacheco
Staff Writer
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Hurricane season in the Central Pacific Region, which includes the Hawaiian Islands, begins June 1 and lasts until
Nov. 30.
However, safety experts advise that the time to prepare for a possible disaster is now.
“You can predict the season, but you definitely can’t know when a disaster is going to strike,” said Joe Barker, installation management emergency officer, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
“There is a time of the year when (hurricanes) are most likely to happen because the weather conditions are right, but what usually causes a hurricane, tsunami or a water spout? Mother Nature,” Barker added, noting that disaster planning should be part of everyday life, and service members, families and civilians can turn awareness into action by being informed, making a plan, building a kit and getting involved.
“Living in Hawaii is not like living in the mainland; we cannot just go to the next state over and get help,” Barker said. “The nearest help, to us, is 3,000 miles away and would take 96-140-plus hours to get help and supplies to the island by air or boat. So, if you don’t have a kit when a disaster strikes, you will need to depend on others, and they may not have what you need to get you through the disaster.”
The National Weather Service defines a hurricane as a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. Winds weaker than 74 mph classify the cyclone as a tropical storm.A1_USAG_Hurrican_ShelterKITS-_Hurricane_w
The strength of a hurricane is measured on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which ranks hurricanes into categories from 1-5, based on sustained wind speed, that estimate potential property damage.
Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. However, Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous and require preventative measures.
On average, four or five tropical cyclones appear in the Central Pacific, each year, most commonly between the months of July and September.
Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm that pummeled Oahu and Kauai Sept. 11, 1992, was the most damaging hurricane in the state’s recorded history, causing billions in damage and the loss of six lives.
The last hurricane to impact the main Hawaiian Islands was Hurricane Flossie, which passed within 100 miles of the Big Island in August 2007, bringing with it rain and tropical storm-force winds.
Most recently, Tropical Storm Flossie (no relation to the aforementioned hurricane) passed through the central Hawaiian Islands as a minimal tropical storm, July 2013.
While hurricane season lasts approximately six months, there are other forces of nature — an active volcano and its seismic activity, tsunamis triggered by events occurring thousands of miles away — that make disaster prep a priority in all Hawaii households.
“We live in an area known as the ‘Ring of Fire,’ and there are earthquakes and volcanic activity happening all around us every day,” Barker said. “Even in paradise, disasters happen. It is like driving down the road. You don’t plan to have a accident, but the chance is always there.”

Online Resources
To learn what to do before, during and after an emergency, visit the following websites:
mil; click on “Emergency Management.”
More information can be found in Hawaiian Electric Company’s free disaster preparedness handbook, available by calling 543-7511 or online at

(Editor’s note: See next week’s “Hawaii Army Weekly” to learn more about hurricane shelter locations and what to stock in your emergency kit.)

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