Hurricane Season Begins June 1

Tips to prepare during 'Hurricane Preparedness Week'

This aerial shot shows Hurricane Sandy moving toward the East Coast last year. Duke officials constantly monitor threats such as hurricanes to keep the Duke community safe. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Even though Hurricane Sandy left the Triangle relatively unscathed when it passed North Carolina last October, Duke officials were still monitoring its activity closely.

That will be no different this summer and fall, as hurricane season officially kicks off June 1.

To help communities be ready before a storm approaches, the National Weather Service is holding "Hurricane Preparedness Week" May 26 to June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecasted an "active" or "extremely active" season this year with a 70 percent chance of 13 to 20 named storms, including the possibility of up to 11 hurricanes. Names for potential hurricanes or tropical storms that may form this year include Andrea, Barry and Chantal.

The hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.

"During this week, it's important to take inventory of your personal preparations in the event of severe weather," said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration. "We each need to ensure that we understand how best to mitigate weather related risks and steps we would need to take in order to remain safe."

Duke community members are encouraged to review safety tips and what to do in an emergency on the DukeALERT website. To prepare for hurricane season, faculty and staff should review and discuss their service categories with supervisors. "Essential" service staff report to or remain at work; "reserve" service employees will be assigned at the time of the event and "delayed" service do not report to or remain at work.

As part of its severe weather preparedness plan, Duke monitors local forecasts on a daily basis and receives alerts through a subscription weather service. Each week, a liaison from Duke Police also participates in a live, web conference call with the local National Weather Service. If a forecast calls for the potential for severe weather, Cavanaugh, as Duke's emergency coordinator, is contacted, and meets with Duke's Severe Weather Operations Team to review plans and preparations.

If weather conditions warrant, Duke uses its DukeALERT emergency notification system to inform Duke community members of severe weather.

Nick Petro, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service's office in Raleigh, said while hurricane season doesn't historically hit its peak until mid-September, it's best to get ready early. He noted the 1992 hurricane season, which only had six tropical cyclones form, was started off by Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane that caused $26.5 billion in damage along the East Coast.

"It doesn't matter if you're on the coast or in the middle of the country, everyone should have a storm preparedness kit," said Petro, adding that flooding and downed trees are most common side effects in the Triangle. "We still see gusts up to hurricane force as far inland as Raleigh."

As part of Hurricane Preparedness Week, the National Weather Service offers a series of instructional videos on topics like hurricane basics, inland flooding and creating plans for dealing with hurricanes. The videos can be viewed on the organization's YouTube page.

For more information about Hurricane Preparedness Week and severe weather, visit the National Weather Service website.