Prep Now for Hurricane Season

Tips for how to get ready for the season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30

This image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Ana, which formed along the East Coast in May, before hurricane season officially began.
This image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Ana, which formed along the East Coast in May, before hurricane season officially began.

Even before the start of hurricane season, the East Coast had to prepare for Tropical Storm Ana, which damaged beaches along the Carolinas in mid-May, weeks before the official start on June 1. 

Despite that early threat, forecasters are predicting a low-activity season in the Atlantic with as little as four named storms through the season,  which ends Nov. 30. The highest prediction of named storms is 11, which is two less than the maximum of 13 from last year.

Ryan Ellis, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Raleigh office, said the decreased threat of hurricanes this year is due to an El Nino system, which cools ocean waters and decreases potential for hurricanes to form. But that doesn’t mean North Carolina isn’t at risk.

“Like we see in the winter with a general pattern not favorable for snow, it only takes one, small period of time when conditions line up,” Ellis said. “It only takes one hurricane to cause a lot of damage, so you still have to be prepared even though the number of storms may be less.” 

Here are ways to prepare for the threat of severe weather: 

Create an Emergency Kit

Being prepared starts with a variety of items to have with you to handle situations from cuts and bruises to loss of power. Whether stowed away in a bag or water-proof plastic container, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends basics that include a three-day supply of non-perishable food, water, battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlights, first aid kit and more. For a full list of supplies, visit the website.

Pay Attention to Duke Information

During severe weather, Duke will work to keep you informed in several ways. In addition to Working@Duke channels on Duke Today and Facebook, real-time information will be posted to Twitter and on the DukeALERT website. Duke community members can call (919) 684-4636 for updates. Duke officials may also push out warnings through various methods, including the outdoor warning system and text messaging in emergencies.

Faculty and staff should also familiarize themselves with their job/work categories, which determine which positions require on-site presence to continue offering patient care, student support and research functions. Employees can find details of categories on the Human Resources website and should discuss with supervisors their role in times of severe weather.

“Staff, faculty and students should take the time to think through what they’d do in an emergency, before severe weather hits,” said Kyle Cavanaugh, Duke’s vice president of administration and emergency coordinator. “Employees should also know their work category, to ensure they’re completely prepared if we face a serious forecast.”

Get in the Know

In addition to staying informed at Duke, an important part of being ready for severe weather is understanding storm impacts, including the difference between a storm “watch” and “warning.” You can also purchase a weather radio that broadcasts continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. The National Weather Service has a series of videos to educate viewers on hurricane preparedness, from the basics of hurricanes to impacts of flooding and how hurricane forecasts are made.

During a severe weather event, this information can be particularly handy. Check out the videos on YouTube:

Create a Communication Plan

Whether at home or at work, it’s important to have a plan in place to communicate with family and colleagues to ensure everyone gets to a safe place, can contact each other and get back together after severe weather has passed. Here’s a helpful Family Emergency Plan template from FEMA.

Find Shelter

Due to the extended forecast and advance warning that comes with a hurricane, you will have time to prepare, so it’s pivotal when the storm hits to be in a wind-safe room. Ensure all windows and exterior doors are closed prior to the storm and try to find cover away from breakable objects and glass.

Once a storm has passed, any flooding or property damage should be reported Facilities Management so crews can respond quickly. Unless a situation is life threatening, crews may wait until after dangerous winds have subsided before responding. Any potential safety-related issues, such as downed trees or power lines, should be reported immediately to Duke Police at 911 or (919) 684-2444.