2022 Hurricane Preparation Guide

2022-05-18 Hurricane Guide

Hurricane Preparation

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Page 41 of 47

Page 42 STAFF REPORT What makes hurricanes such frightening natural phenomena? They are powerful. On the Saf- fir-Simpson Scale, the measurement and categorization of a storm's wind speed, a hurricane carries sustained winds of 74 mph or more. Even at that speed, well-constructed frame homes could suffer damage, large tree branches can snap and power lines and poles will likely top- ple, resulting in area power outages that could last several days. Many hurricanes are a lot stronger and the destruction can be much great- er. They are unpredictable. When there is a possibility of a hurricane heading your way, it's best to be informed and listen to the weather and emergency management ex- perts. If they advise you to evacu- ate or prepare for a direct hit, you should do it. Just because our area has been spared in the past doesn't mean it will always be that way. We live is an area prone to these storms. You can't prevent them from happening, but you can prepare your home and family for them. Hurricane season is six months. The Atlantic hurricane season offi- cially occurs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year. Occasionally hurricanes appear outside of those six months, but according to NOAA's National Hurricane Center data, more than 97% of hurricanes occur during that time. Three of those months are espe- cially active. Seventy-eight percent of the tropical storm days, 87% of the minor (Saffir-Simpson Scale categories 1 and 2) hurricane days, and 96% of the major (Saffir-Simp- son categories 3, 4 and 5) hurricane days occur August through October. Maximum activity usually is from early to mid-September. It's mostly about the water tem- perature. The warm summer and early fall months provide the opti- mal setting for hurricane formation. There also needs to be a moisture rich atmosphere near and out ahead of the storm. If dry air is around or in front of a storm, this tends to limit it from gaining strength. As a storm moves over land, it also loses its punch fairly quickly. We have experience with tropical storms and their damage. When the devastating Hurricane Char- ley hit Charlotte County in 2004, it was a small, but strong Category 4. Another 2004 storm, Hurricane Ivan, spawned more than 100 small tornadoes, causing more damage than the hurricane itself. Sarasota County has been fortu- nate in recent decades to not have a direct hit from a hurricane. The last time was in 1944 – before the World Meteorological Organization began naming storms – when a Category 3 hurricane made landfall around the Osprey/Casey Key area. In 2017, after weakening from its landfall in Marco Island, Hurricane Irma bar- reled through the Sarasota-Manatee area as a Category 1 hurricane. STAFF REPORT People believe a lot of things about hurricanes and how to prepare for them, but what is the real deal? MYTH: "Only protect the windows and doors facing the ocean." REALITY: Wind can come from any direction, partic- ularly with hurricanes and tornadoes. Winds from these storms generally move in a circle, so depending on the eye of the storm's location, wind can come from virtu- ally any angle. Hurricane winds are turbulent and may change direction quick- ly. MYTH: "Nothing can stand up to a strong hurri- cane, so don't bother prepar- ing." REALITY: After seeing the damage caused by Hur- ricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm, people might think they can't do anything. But many of the buildings that failed during Andrew did so because they had a few cor- rectable flaws, most notably the lack of strong shutters and doors. Retrofitting houses with modern hurricane protec- tion, including adding some of Florida International University's "magic'' nails to the roof, can make a lot of difference. (FIU researchers found that using nails with a twist in them to hold the roof's plywood to the rafters dramatically increases the structure's strength.) MYTH: "Tape windows to prevent damage or shatter." REALITY: This is a waste of effort, time and tape. It offers little strength to the glass and no protection against flying debris. The tape will only help keep the glass from dispersing. You are better off spending your time putting shutters over doors and windows. MYTH: "The best thing to do if a hurricane is coming is to evacuate to Orlando." REALITY: Residents of Southwest Florida should stay in a strong building as close to home as possible, but outside of the evacua- tion zones announced for that particular storm. If you head upstate, you could get caught in traffic or trapped in the middle of nowhere when the hurri- cane arrives. There also is no guarantee the hurricane won't follow you up the interstate. After the storm, you'll want to get home as soon as possible to take care of your property. MYTH: "Light candles if the power goes out." REALITY: Never use candles, gas or oil lanterns during a storm. If a fire starts in your home, emer- gency responders may not be able to get to your home. Only use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns during a storm. MYTH: "Storm surge won't bother me — I'm two whole blocks from the beach." REALITY: Storm surge is a wind-driven dome of wa- ter that rushes inland ahead of, and to the right of, the center of a hurricane. The dome can reach 25 to 30 feet in a Category 5 land-falling hurricane. It will not stop in a block or two blocks or, in some cases, for miles. Nine- ty percent of people who die in a hurricane drown in the storm surge. Plan ahead. MYTH: "Sandbags can prevent water from entering a home." REALITY: Sandbags are effective when used to channel or direct water away from a home, provided they are properly filled and maintained. Fill sandbags only half full, tamp into place and limit placement to three layers unless a build- ing is used as a backing or sandbags are placed in a pyramid. MYTH: "It's safe to stay in a high-rise because you're above the flooding." REALITY: Not true. The winds in a hurricane increase dramatically with height, so the forces on windows and doors at the higher floors are greater. Although the interior of the second or third floor is usually safe, if your high- rise is near the water, you should leave so you don't get trapped. MYTH: "The best way to keep your house from blow- ing apart is to leave a win- dow open opposite the wind, so the pressure inside the house can equal the pressure outside." REALITY: The strongest forces during a hurricane are caused by the wind speeding by the structure, creating a strong suction force on the downwind cor- ners. Low pressure (suction) is created on the lee side of the house. Opening a window there can lower the pressure inside the house as well, subjecting it to higher stress, not less. Keep all windows closed, locked and shuttered. Hurricane 'myths' vs. hurricane 'realities' Understanding the power of hurricanes ASSOCIATED PRESS Margaret Barnett, 70, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, gives hot meals to Amy Waldron her two children Alyssa and Bradly in Punta Gorda on Aug. 18, 2004. The Red Cross spread throughout Charlotte County to feed people affected by Hurricane Charley.

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