Hurricane Season Is Here!

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 through November 30 while the Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30. As Tropical Storm Bill pounds the Texas coast and moves inland, this second named storm reminds us to become familiar with the hurricane-related notifications issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), including watches and warnings.

  • Hurricane Watch: An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible within a specified area. Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. During a watch, tune in to your NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, or television for information and conduct outside preparedness activities. You can use the America’s PrepareAthon! How to Prepare for a Hurricane Guide for help with storm preparations.
  • Hurricane Warning: An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected within a specified area. Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. During a warning, complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.

Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes, coastal and inland flooding, and storm surge. According to NWS, storm surge produced by hurricanes is one of the greatest threats to life and property along the coast. To learn more about storm surge, take a look at this clip from the National Hurricane Center.

NOAA: Below-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely this year

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below normal, but that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.

For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 – November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70% likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (with winds 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (with winds of 74 mph or higher), including 0 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher, with winds of 111 mph or higher).

The outlook calls for a 70% chance of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season, a 20% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of an above-normal season. The seasonal average for the Atlantic is 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The NOAA outlook includes Tropical Storm Ana, which formed earlier this month. Pre-season development is not an indicator of the overall season.

NOAA also issued its outlook for the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins. For the Eastern Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s 2015 outlook is for a 70% chance of an above-normal hurricane season. That outlook calls for a 70% probability of 15–22 named storms, of which 7–12 are expected to become hurricanes, including 5–8 major hurricanes. For the Central Pacific hurricane basin, NOAA’s outlook is for a 70% chance of an above-normal season with 5–8 tropical cyclones likely.

“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall in your community to significantly disrupt your life,” said FEMA Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich. “Everyone should take action now to prepare themselves and their families for hurricanes and powerful storms. Develop a family communications plan, build an emergency supply kit for your home, and take time to learn evacuation routes for your area. Knowing what to do ahead of time can literally save your life and help you bounce back stronger and faster should disaster strike in your area.”

With the hurricane season officially starting next week, NOAA offers hurricane preparedness tips, along with video and audio public service announcements at www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

Click here for the full article.

Participate in EMI’s Virtual Tabletop Exercise (VTTX) Series

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is offering monthly Virtual Tabletop Exercises (VTTX). The VTTX involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting and can be used to assess plans, policies, training, and procedures. These exercises provide an excellent opportunity for your cultural agencies to engage with your EMA to further customize the scenario to include cultural and historic resources. Upcoming VTTX include tornado, wildland fire, flood, and hurricane scenarios.

The VTTX differs from other tabletop exercises in that it is conducted using Video-Teleconference (VTC) technology (not web based), and is intended to provide an opportunity for responders across the nation to participate simultaneously in a hazard-specific facilitated discussion. Lead facilitation for the exercise will be coordinated by EMI, with local facilitation provided by the participating EMA. This format will allow the common delivery of exercise materials, scenarios, modules, and discussion questions among those participating in the exercise.

The cultural heritage emergency network COSTEP MA (Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness in Massachusetts) participated in the EMI tornado VTTX offered in early 2013. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency worked with COSTEP MA to further customize the scenario to focus specifically on cultural and historic resource issues. The collaboration has since led to the drafting of a document that will establish Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines to be used by COSTEP MA personnel following a major disaster. Great things can result when you collaborate!

Click here for the VTTX schedule and more information.