2013-06-07 / In the Know

In the Know

Now’s the right time to address hurricane preparedness
By B. Michael Thurlow Special contributor

This article is timely because we just completed the first week of the 2013 hurricane season and the previous week was National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Fortunately, by the time most hurricanes travel through the colder waters off the coast of Maine they weakened considerably, but that doesn’t mean we are immune to their devastation.

In the northeast our storms are generally weaker with lower wind speeds than some of the strong compact storms that impact the gulf or southeast coast, but they are often much larger in overall size which means residents in a larger area of our coastline are impacted.

You only need to look at the extreme devastation that upstate Vermont is still dealing with from Hurricane Irene in 2011, as well as the damage Hurricane Sandy did last year in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut to understand that even tropical storms and minimal hurricanes are capable of doing tremendous damage.

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane outlook was recently issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and it is calling for a very active season.

The NOAA predict a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes (winds 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher).

These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

There are three climatological factors that strongly control Atlantic hurricane activity and they are expected to come together to produce this active season.

They include a continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong West African monsoon that is responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995; warmerthan average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea; and El Niño is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation this year.

The National Hurricane Center has an extensive website with lots of quality information about hurricane preparedness.

It includes some new video clips that they created for the public dealing with hurricane basics, storm surge, winds, inland flooding, the forecast process, emergency planning, and taking appropriate action.

They are brief and informative and I recommend you check them out at www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare.

As we all know, many residents of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are still suffering from Hurricane Sandy several months later. The key to surviving any disaster is preparedness.

There are many websites and information sources, including our own public library, with a wealth of great information on personal and business preparedness tips and recommendations that you can use to get ready for this summer’s hurricane season, as well as any other manmade or natural disaster that comes along.

If you have any questions about this article or any fire department issue, please contact me at mthurl@ ci.scarborough.me.us or call 730-4201 B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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