This week is hurricane preparedness week for 2015.
Today Marks the first day of the 2014 hurricane preparedness week in
North Carolina. This is the time for everybody to make weather-
readiness a priority. All week long the National Weather Service
will issue informative messages to help you prepare for the
hurricane season. Topics covered this week will include rip
currents, storm surge, winds, inland flooding, forecast process, and
planning and action.
North Carolina is one of the most hurricane ravaged states in the
country. The entire state, from the mountains to the coast, is
susceptible to hurricane and tropical storm impacts. The coastal
areas of the state can be susceptible to storm surge, high winds,
flooding, and tornadoes. The central portion of the state can be
susceptible to inland freshwater flooding, high winds, and
tornadoes; and the western portion of the state can be susceptible
to tornadoes, flash flooding, and resulting landslides from heavy
rains when dying tropical cyclones move from the northern Gulf of
Mexico northeast along the Appalachians.
The most active months for tropical systems in North Carolina are
August and September. However, hurricanes have wreaked havoc as
early as June and as late as mid-November. The peak tropical
activity usually occurs in a six week period from mid-August to late
September. During active cycles in hurricane activity North Carolina
can experience multiple hurricanes and tropical storms within weeks
of each other.
A look back at our hurricane history shows impressive statistics.
Nearly 20 percent of all tropical systems pass within at least 300
miles of North Carolina. A tropical storm or hurricane makes direct
landfall on our coast about once every 2 years. A tropical storm
or hurricane, which doesnt make landfall in North Carolina but
somehow affects our state, occurs about twice per year. A major
hurricane, which is a category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson
scale, threatens North Carolina at least once every 15 years.
However, the last major hurricane to threaten and impact the state
was hurricane fran in 1996, so it may seem that North Carolina is
due for another major hurricane to impact the state. These stats
re-emphasize the importance of being prepared for the hurricane
season. Its not if a hurricane or tropical storm will somehow
affect North Carolina this year, rather its when.
Even when hurricanes stay out at sea, the North Carolina coast can
still be impacted by large swells and deadly rip currents, thus
making it important to stay aware of the tropics and weather
forecasts all throughout the hurricane season. Rip currents are
channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf
beaches. Rip currents are quite common and can be found on many
surf beaches every day. They typically form at breaks in sandbars,
and also near structures such as jetties and piers. While the risk
of rip currents occurring along the North Carolina beaches increases
when a tropical cyclone is out in the Atlantic, the risk increases
even more so when a tropical cyclone is moving toward the North
Carolina coast, especially when the storm is a day or two away from
making landfall along the Carolina coast.
Rip currents are dangerous because they can pull people away from
shore. Rip current speeds can vary from moment to moment and can
quickly increase to become dangerous to anyone entering the surf.
Rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Some
clues that a rip current may be present include a channel of
churning, choppy water, a difference in water color, a break in the
incoming wave pattern, and a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, stay calm and dont
fight the current. Escape the current by swimming in a direction
following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an
angleaway from the currenttoward shore. If you are unable to
escape by swimming, float or tread water. When the current weakens,
swim at an angle away from the current toward shore. If at any time
you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to
yourself: face the shore, call or wave for help. Also, dont
become a victim while trying to help someone else! Many people have
died in efforts to Rescue rip current victims. Instead, get help
from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not present, Yell instructions
on how to escape. If possible, throw the rip current victim
something that floats. Call 9-1-1 for further assistance.
When it comes to this hurricane season, its important to take
appropriate preparedness action and encourage others to do the same.
An informed and motivated public will transform the way north
carolinians respond to hurricane seasons and, ultimately, save more
lives and livelihoods. Make a pledge to prepare for this hurricane
season, complete an emergency preparedness plan, make or update your
emergency kit, and be an example by sharing your preparedness story
with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
For more information about hurricane preparedness, please visit the
following web sites:
Severe Weather Get Mobile & Email Alerts
Durham Severe Watches & Warnings NOAA Weather Radio
Public Information Statement
Statement as of 5:37 am EDT on May 24, 2015