How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Atlantic hurricane season now underway and runs to Nov. 30

Hurricane Fran, which hit North Carolina and other eastern states in 1996, was among hurricanes to cause major damage in the Triangle. Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Even though last year's Atlantic hurricane season had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, Duke emergency officials will monitor the potential for major storms this hurricane season, which began Sunday and runs to Nov. 30.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that eight to 13 named storms will form this year in the Atlantic; three to six could become hurricanes. Names for potential hurricanes or tropical storms that may form this year range from Arthur to Gonzalo to Wilfred.

"It really depends on where a tropical storm or hurricane makes landfall, but we can be affected inland in the Triangle by systems that make landfall in the Gulf of Mexico with potential for weak tornados and heavy rain," said Brandon Dunstan, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. "It's always good to stockpile some water, non-perishable food, batteries and flashlights just in case. With Hurricane Fran in 1996, it was a couple weeks without power for some people."

Over a typical two-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of three hurricanes, one of which is classified as a major hurricane. Fran was the last major hurricane to impact the Triangle, but in 2013, Tropical Storm Andrea caused flooding and power outages across the state, including dumping more than five inches of rain in the Triangle.

Duke community members are encouraged to stay informed during the season by listening to weather forecasts, preparing a personal emergency plan and reviewing safety tips and what to do in a campus emergency on the DukeALERT website.

Employees should also 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.

"Faculty and staff should review Duke's severe weather policy so they know what to do in the event of a hurricane or other emergency," said Kyle Cavanaugh, Duke's vice president of administration. "It only takes one weather event to cause major damage to Duke and the area, so it's important to be ready, have a plan and know how to respond to severe weather."

Duke monitors local forecasts on a daily basis and receives alerts through a subscription weather service as part of its severe weather preparedness plan. 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.

For more information about hurricane preparedness and severe weather, visit the National Weather Service website.