a) What is an hurricane?
It is a meteorological phenomenon that is difficult to anticipate. Hurricanes don’t always follow a path, that’s why it is hard to predict exactly where it will strike. The litoral zones of the southeast of the United States are frequently hit by such catastrophes. For example, the wrenching Hurricane Katrina that struck Mississippi in 2005. The season starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th. This consulate makes a plea of caution.
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone of violent force and range. They can cause enormous tidal waves (10-12 meter waves) and heavy rains that can lead to flooding, accompanied by high winds. It results from an accumulation of heat, humidity and a lack of aloft wind. In general, a hurricane subsides after a week to 9 days, depending on its path.
Hurricane force is measured on a scale of 1 to 5:
| Category | Mp/h | Km/h | Effects |
| Cat 1 | 74-95 | 119-153 | light damages |
| Cat 2 | 96-110 | 154-177 | Roofs and windows are damaged. Many trees and vegetation are damaged, as well as mobile homes, weak buildings and boats. |
| Cat 3 | 111-130 | 178-209 | Light structured buildings can be severly damaged as well as many roofs. Damage to vegetation and trees is common and trees can be uprooted; mobile homes and road signs are destroyed. |
| Cat 4 | 131-155 | 210-249 | Damage to buildings and roofs are severe. Non-protected homes are partially or totally destroyed. Damage to doors and windows are significant. Mobile homes are totally demolished. |
| Cat 5 | 155 | 249 | Many roofs are severely damaged. Complete destruction of buildings can occur. All trees, shrubs, and road signs are down. Severe damage to doors and windows. |
- Distinction "HURRICANE WATCH" / "HURRICANE WARNING" :
· "HURRICANE WATCH": A hurricane is expected in the area within 36 hours.
ACTION : You are encouraged to follow the path of the hurricane with local media and must follow the instructions of of local authorities.
· "HURRICANE WARNING": A hurricane is expected in the alerted area within 24 hours.
ACTION : As soon as you hear the alert, everything that can be done to protect lives and property MUST be done. If an order of evacuation has been issued, the local population must leave the determined areas.
b) Before a hurricane
You have to prepare yourself before the hurricane reaches your location. Make sure to have with you:
· Water: at least a gallon per day and per person. Make sure you have a sufficient stock for 7 days ;
· Food (mostly cans): if you have a baby or you are with an elderly person, think of their specific needs ;
· Kitchenware: can opener, plastic forks, knives, cups and plates. ;
· First aid kit: scissors, bandages, etc. ;
· Flash light, batteries, candles ;
· Mosquito repellent ;
· Portable radio with brand new batteries (it will be your only way to get informations if you have no electricity) ;
· Cash ;
· Games, books, toys etc. ;
· Important document (insurance, bank, passport, social security number etc.) ;
· Gas tank ;
· Pillows, blankets ;
· Clothes ;
· For pets: water, food, leash, etc.
Anticipate the catastrophe :
· Check the solidty of your house in case of flooding, high winds or tidal waves ;
· Put pieces of wood or steel on your windows and doors ;
· Prune nearby trees ;
· Locate your house’s safe places ;
· Get the shelters list in case of evacuation.
c) When a hurricane is approaching
If you are not in an evacuation aera. Remain in your house or hotel
· Keep lighter items inside ;
· Put your documents, jewelry, clothes etc. in hermetic bags and place them in the highest location possible ;
· Lock your pets in a safe place ;
· Make water stocks: Fill empty bottle, baths and basins ;
· Fill your cars with gas and park them in safe places ;
· Set your fridge on ice cold. Put water bottles in the freezer that will serve as food conservation if electricity runs down ;
· If you have a small boat, put it in your garage, if it’s too big secure it carefully ;
· Withdraw cash.
If you have to evacuate
· It is essential that you know and enforce the decisions of US local authorities. Do not listen to rumors or neighbors ;
· Anticipate the place where you will be staying, and the route you will take ;
· Do not leave at the last moment, you will risk being blocked in traffic or you may have to face flooding and bad weather conditions ;
· Lock your house, switch off electricity, water and gas ;
· Wear solid shoes and clothes that will protect you from debris.
d) During a hurricane
· If you have not left your house: do not go out, stay sheltered, away from the windows in the safest place of your house. As a reminder the safest places are those with no windows (bathroom, closet etc.) ;
· Listen to the radio to get information on the hurricane. Be careful when the eye hits your area, it will be abormally calm. Remain inside your home until you make sure the hurricane is gone.
· If your house starts to weaken, protect yourself with blankets, carpets, matresses etc. or hide under a desk, a table etc.
e) After a hurricane
· Keep listening to the radio to make sure you hear the official information concerning the hurricane ;
· Keep away from wires, damaged trees and buildings etc. ;
· Use your phone only in case of emergency. Call 911 only in case of serious danger or catastrophe ;
· Treat tap water ;
· If you had been evacuated, go home only if the local authorities give you the permission to do so ;
· Take the recommended roads, avoid shortcuts.
a) What is a tornado?
If tornados can strike at any time, it is most of the time a seasonal phenomenon. In the Southeast, the season starts in March and end around May. It is the most violent and destructing meteorological event. A great amount of energy displayed in a such small aera is the reason why it ruins everything on its way. A tornado is a violent, rotating column of air which is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. Tornadoes come in many sizes but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris. The suddenness, the brevity and the feeling of helplessness when we face them makes it a true enemy.
Tornados always come with violent thunderstorm, preceded by rain, sometimes hail and usually followed by cloudburst. A tornado can come with a tropical storm or a hurricane.
On sea, tornados are called waterspouts. It is less severe but far more common, and are similar in dynamics to dust devils and landspouts.
- FUJITA SCALE: It determines tornados strenght:
|F0||40–72||64–116||Light damage. Some damage to chimneys; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over; sign boards damaged.|
|F1||73–112||117–180||Moderate damage. The lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind speed; peels surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off the roads; attached garages may be destroyed.|
|F2||113–157||181–253||Considerable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars overturned; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated.|
|F3||158–206||254–332||Severe damage. Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in forest uprooted; heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown.|
|F4||207–260||333–418||Devastating damage. Well-constructed houses leveled; structures with weak foundations blown away some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.|
|F5||261–318||419–512||Incredible damage. Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 m (109 yd); trees debarked; steel reinforced concrete structures badly damaged; incredible phenomena will occur.|
b) How to be prepare?
Know the terminology:
- Tornado watch : risk of tornado.
- Tornado warning : impending tornado.
- Severe thunderstorm watch : risk of severe thunderstorm.
- Severe thunderstorm warning : impending thunderstorm
· Buy a NOAA Weather Radio and batteries
· Do the inventory of your goods, protect your official documents in a safe place, a strongbow would be perfect.
c) During the tornado
- As soon as a tornado is on sight, protect yourself as quickly as possible, stay away from doors and windows ;
- If you are in a house, go to the basement ;
- If you are in a school, an hospital or a mall, go to the security aeras or go to the inferior level ;
- If you are in a building or a skyscraper, protect yourself in a little room or go to the lobby and hide under a desk or an heavy furniture an protect your head and neck with your arms ;
- If you are in a mobile home, a car etc. leave and go to any building you can find to protect yourself. DO NOT TRY TO COMPETE WITH A TORNADO, YOU WILL ALWAYS LOSE.
- Necessary equipment:
· Flash light and batteries ;
· First aid kit ;
· Stock of water and food ;
· Can opener ;
· Basic medicine ;
· Cash and credit card ;
· Conformtable shoes.
d) After the tornado
· Keep away from wires, damaged trees and buildings etc. ;
· Locate possible wounded, do not move them unless they face great danger like death for example ;
· Be very careful inside damaged and fragile buildings.