On Wednesday Hurricane Earl was downgraded to a category 3 storm, but he's still packing 125 mph winds. Some areas along the Atlantic coast have already begun to evacuate, as the storm is expected to hit on Thursday and into the weekend. Here's a photo of Earl near Cuba.
Most folks think hurricanes have a nasty reputation primarily because of the power of the wind. In fact, the classification system used by the National Weather Service to define the strength of a hurricane is directly related to the speed of the wind that is created by the huge swirling storm. There is no question that hurricane-force wind can do a lot of damage, tearing roofs off houses, shattering windows, and flinging debris through populated areas like so much deadly shrapnel. Trees are uprooted and buildings destroyed, leaving the stricken region looking like a war zone. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
Wind isn’t the only danger. One of the most destructive elements delivered by a hurricane is the water that comes with the storm. The violent wind that blows for days across the open ocean builds wave action that moves mountains of water toward the shoreline. Over the deeper ocean, the waves take the form of gigantic swells, but as the energy of those swells moves into shallower territory, the water stacks up into vertical waves that come rumbling ashore like an unstoppable freight train. This is known as storm surge, and the resulting flood often penetrates for miles inland, destroying everything in its path and killing or injuring anyone who is unlucky enough to be in the area. What can you do to survive such a storm? Here are some tips. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
Be aware of what’s going on around you. Hurricanes don’t just suddenly appear without warning – there are usually several days of warnings issued about the approach of a storm of this magnitude. Check the Weather Channel and scour other sources of information to remain aware of what the weather is doing. Hurricane season in the Northern Hemisphere officially runs from about the first of June to the end of November, but the early and late storms are rare. The most active hurricane months are August and September. In the Southern Hemisphere, the season is just opposite (but those storms are commonly called typhoons and cyclones). Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
Although it’s tempting to stay behind and try to protect your property, there is nothing you can do to save your possessions when the explosive power of hurricane-force wind hits, and the floodwater rises. You must come to grips with the fact that no matter what you do, you cannot stop the wind and the flood. Unless you are called into service for the community (sandbagging efforts, etc.) your primary responsibility is to save yourself and your loved ones by leaving the area until the storm passes. By getting out of the way of rescue teams and relief organizations, you will actually make life easier on those workers and the people they are trying to save. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
Plan your evacuation as soon as local authorities begin issuing warnings about the storm, and follow their advice about evacuating the area. Don’t wait until the storm hits. Get out early, so you won’t be trapped in the gridlock. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
Take along a 72-hour kit that is easy to carry (perhaps a small backpack) that contains essentials for your own short-term survival. Having a kit like this takes the pressure off of relief organizations, because you’ll be able to care for yourself, so you are not part of the problem. This kit might contain the following items: a dry change of clothes – long sleeve shirt, long pants, windbreaker, hat, gloves drinking water and water filter emergency food – power bars, MREs, GORP emergency blanket or bivvy and sleeping pad personal items – toothbrush, toothpaste, bar soap, washcloth, small towel medical supplies to meet your own needs fire-starting equipment signal whistle and mirror small flashlight knife first aid kit small radio to receive disaster reports toilet paper Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
Before you leave, board up the windows with sheets of plywood to help protect against damage from flying debris. Turn off the water to the house, and shut off the gas at the meter. Disengage the main electric power switch. Then lock the house doors, close the garage door, and leave. If your house survives the wind and flood, these steps may protect against looting and residual damage that might be caused by broken gas lines, water lines, and power lines. With the electricity cut off, you won’t walk into a sodden house and get electrocuted. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
If you happen to be hunting, fishing or camping when the hurricane roars ashore, head inland and get to higher ground and hunker down as quickly as possible. Position yourself in a sheltered area where you will not be in danger of rising water or being hit by flying objects. Move away from waterways, because the sudden rush of storm surge can arrive like a tsunami and overwhelm the area. Do not attempt to drive on flooded roads, because it’s impossible to detect the depth of the water. Swift moving water will erode the road, leaving deep holes that will swallow a vehicle. Stay away from downed power lines. Stay away from disaster areas unless you are directed to do so by authorities who are seeking volunteers to help with rescue or relief efforts. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
If you come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and water to remove harmful pollutants. The cocktail of deadly contamination that can foul floodwater is something right out of a science fiction horror movie – everything from raw sewage to spilled fuel to acid to medical waste. Make every attempt to stay out of the water and get to a safe spot of high ground where you can make camp and plan your next move. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
Your next move should be away from the problem area and toward safety. Bob McNally (taken in Buras and Venice, LA 2006)
On Wednesday Hurricane Earl was downgraded to a category 3 storm, but he’s still packing 125 mph winds. Some areas along the Atlantic coast have already begun to evacuate, as the storm is expected to hit on Thursday and into the weekend. Here’s a photo of Earl near Cuba.
Even though Hurricane Earl is not an exceptionally powerful storm (Hurricane Katrina was a category 5), he could be a serious problem because of his forecasted path. Experts predict that Earl will slam into North Carolina and Virginia on Friday and then make his way up the coast toward Boston by Saturday. Photo by: www.nj.com
A hurricane hasn’t threatened such a large area on the East Coast since Hurricane Bob in 1991, according to the New York Times. Photo: Hurricane Bob