Hurricanes are tropical cyclones that rotate counterclockwise with wind speeds in excess of 74 mph. Most hurricanes form over warm seas near the equator. They are created when the sun heats the ocean surface, causing heated water vapor to rise, condense, and form clouds. These clouds begin to spiral as the earth rotates. More air is pulled underneath and a large vortex is formed.
On average, six Atlantic hurricanes develop each year. When a hurricane moves toward coastal areas it often causes severe damage. Strong winds create storm surges, floods, rip tides and can even spawn tornadoes. As the hurricane moves forward, its right front quadrant is typically where the most devastation occurs.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. Be sure to practice hurricane preparedness and learn about hurricane safety and survival.
> 156 MPH
- Is your disaster supply kit ready?
- Gas up your vehicles.
- Have your evacuation plan ready (view routes here).
- Secure loose items outside of your home.
- Frequently check on the progress of the storm.
- Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and medication.
- Store valuables and papers in waterproof containers.
- Secure your boat.
- Inform loved ones as to where you will be during the storm.
- Ensure your weather radio is in working condition.
- Locate your local shelters.
Securing Your Property and Insurance
You can take low-cost mitigation measures to protect yourself and your home from losses from wind and/or flooding, including:
- Analyze your home’s structural weaknesses
- If you are building a new home, consider a hip roof with a pitch of 30 degrees or less
- Install storm shutters to protect windows
- Install braces to give additional support to garage doors
- Plant vegetation to serve as wind breaks
- Buy flood insurance (see below)
- Move valuables and appliances out of the basement
- Make sure that any flood-proofing efforts are in compliance with the minimum NFIP requirements, and with state and local building codes.
The North Carolina Department of Insurance offers tips for maximizing your personal safety and minimizing your property and financial losses, including:
- Homeowners should review their insurance policies with their agents.
- Flood Insurance can be obtained by qualifying property owners by contacting their local agent or through the National Flood Insurance Program (1-800-662-7048).
- The Beach Plan is a program designed for coastal property owners. It offers coverage for for fire, lightning, wind and hail. Obtain more information by calling 1-800-662-7048 or visit http://www.ncjua-nciua.org/.
- Residents living in rental properties should consider purchasing renter’s insurance to cover losses of personal property within the rental unit.
- If you evacuate, take a copy of your policy with you.
Additional tips for hurricane and storm preparation are also available at the Department of Insurance or by calling the Consumer Services Division of the Department of Insurance toll-free (in-state) at 1-800-546-5664.
Basic Emergency Supplies
The best time to assemble a 3-day disaster supply kit is well before the storm hits. Many of these are common household items. Store enough supplies for at least 3 days, and if possible, for 7 days.
- Easy to carry water-tight container(s) (for all of your items)
- Water – 1 gallon per person per day, along with a water purification kit or bleach
- First aid kit and first aid book
- Mosquito repellent and sunscreen
- Pre-cooked, non-perishable foods, like canned meats, granola bars, peanut butter, instant soup, cereals, dried fruit, powdered milk, etc.
- Portable camp stove or grill with extra propane
- Non-electric can opener and waterproof lighter
- Paper plates, cups, utensils, paper towels
- Aluminum foil, oven mits, trash bags
- Baby supplies: formula, bottle, pacifier, diapers, baby wipes, etc.
- Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel
- Blanket or sleeping bag per person
- Battery operated alarm clock, radio and/or TV with extra batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Essential medications (and copies of the prescriptions)
- Bar soap, toilet articles
- Toilet paper, feminine hygiene supplies
- Cash and change
- Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes and work gloves
- Cleaning supplies, hand tools, duct tape, rope, etc.
- Documents, backup discs of important computer files, medical history info, photo IDs
- Camera, books, games, cards, etc.
- Food, water, leash and carrier for pets
Pets are only allowed in specific, designated public shelters for health and space reasons, and are housed in separate locations at those shelters.
In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do for your pets is to evacuate them too. Pets are not allowed at most hotels and motels in North Carolina, so emergency arrangements for them may require careful planning.
- Keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
- Keep your pet on a leash with proper identification.
- Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal, large enough for the animal to stand an turn around.
Animals brought to a pet shelter are required to have:
- Proper identification, including collar and rabies tag
- Proper identification on all belongings
- A carrier
- A leash
- An ample supply of food, water and food bowls
- Any necessary medications
- Specific care instructions
- Newspapers or trash bags for clean-up
If you must leave your pet behind, prepare an appropriate area for it. Put the pet in a carrier in an interior closet or bathroom with plenty of water, food, toys and blankets.
Advisory: Hurricane and storm information delivered to the public every six hours.
“Eye” of the Hurricane: The relatively calm area near the center of the storm where winds are light, and the sky often is partly cloudy. The calm area is deceptive because it is bordered by maximum-force winds and torrential rains; it can last from several minutes to more than an hour.
Gale Warning: An advisory that 39-54 mph sustained winds and strong wave action are expected.
Hurricane: A tropical storm with wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or more, and dangerously high water and waves.
Hurricane Warning: An advisory that a hurricane is expected to strike a specified area within 24 hours or less.
Hurricane Watch: An announcement of possible hurricane conditions for a particular area within 36 hours.
Intermediate Advisory: Hurricane and storm information updated every two to three hours, or as necessary.
Special Advisory: Hurricane and storm information delivered when there is a significant change in storm-related weather conditions or warnings.
Storm Surge: An abnormal rise in sea level produced by the strong winds and low pressure within a hurricane. The storm surge occurs in the right half of the storm as it makes landfall. The storm surge potentially could elevate sea level from 2 to 20 feet. (9 out of 10 hurricane-related deaths occur as a result of storm surge, rather than winds.)
Storm Warning: An advisory that 55-73 mph sustained winds and strong wave action are expected.
Tropical Depression: An area of low pressure, rotary circulation of clouds and winds up to 38 miles per hour.
Tropical Disturbance: A moving area of thunderstorms in the tropics.
Tropical Storm: Counterclockwise circulation of clouds and winds (develops over warm tropical waters) with wind speeds ranging from 39-73 miles per hour. At this stage, the storm is assigned a name.
Tropical Wave: A westward-moving, low-pressure trough in the deep easterly current that tends to organize low-level circulation. It sometimes travels thousands of miles with little change in shape, producing showers and thunderstorms along its path.
Surviving a Hurricane
When a Watch Is Issued
Monitor storm reports
Make arrangements for pets
Store non-perishable foods
Store fresh drinking water
Protect glass openings
Buy materials for emergency repairs
When a Warning Is Issued
Monitor storm reports
Leave mobile homes
Prepare for high winds
Relocate boats on trailers
Check boat mooring lines
Store valuables and paperwork
Prepare for floods and tornadoes
Double-check survival supplies
This material is provided as a public service. Its purpose is to increase hurricane awareness. The key to survival is advance preparation!
- Take your disaster supply kit
- Bring pillows and blankets
- Have a safe place to go
- Bring extra cash
- Enact your pet plan
- Bring important family documents in a waterproof container
- Secure your home
- Follow your county evacuation map
- Don’t drive on flooded roads
- Follow officials’ instructions
- Stay away from downed power lines
- After the threat, listen to local officials for the all-clear
If You Stay at Home
If you are not able to evacuate, it is best to stay at a shelter. In the event of a disaster, there are special shelters set up for those with special medical needs. If you do choose to stay at home, follow these tips:
- Cover all windows and doors with shutters or other shielding materials
- Have extra cash on hand
- Have a weather radio on hand for frequent updates
- Follow instructions of local officials
- Stay away from windows and doors
- Go to an interior room on the first floor
- Have a family communication plan
- Remain indoors even during the eye of the storm
Portable generators are a good source of alternative power if an outage occurs, but they should only be used in emergency situations. An improperly installed or operated generator can be deadly! Click here for more information on safely operating a generator.
After a Hurricane
What to Do After a Hurricane
- Contact local officials to see if it is safe to return
- Check with officials for a safe route to return
- Make sure your residence is safe
- Be cautious of downed power lines
- Follow all instructions of local officials
- Do not drink water until notified that it is safe
- Be cautious of spoiled food
- Take inventory of destroyed and damaged property
- Contact your insurance company
When a hurricane strikes, it often causes widespread power outages. Restoring power after a major outage is a big job that involves much more than simply throwing a switch or removing a tree from a line. Our goal is to restore power SAFELY to the greatest number of people in the shortest time possible.
Stay clear of trees that may have fallen on power lines.
Remember, a power outage may effect thousands of other customers, so please be patient as we work to restore your power safely and efficiently.
More info on power restoration can be found here.
Responsibility for the cleanup falls to numerous local, state and federal agencies. A local disaster coordinator/director or his representative will be on hand to help residents in this effort. But, in the meantime, help your neighbors. Recovery quickens with cooperation from all.
- Notify your insurance company
- Apply for relief with FEMA
- Protect property
- Remember, recovery is a team effort
For more information about hurricane preparedness, survival and relief, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.
Managing Storm Debris
You know what to do when a dangerous storm hits, but what about afterwards? Cooperation and proper clean-up procedures can go a long way toward regaining our way of life.
Please be sure to separate your debris into the following categories:
- Yard Debris – including trees and brush
- Building Debris – including construction materials, carpet and furniture
- Bulky Metal Items – including appliances and bikes
- Household Garbage – including food and paper waste
- Household Hazardous Materials – paint, solvents, cleaners, fertilizers and insecticides should be separated with extreme care
And, as you clear debris from your yard and home, please be careful not to block:
- Fire hydrants
- Utility boxes
Do your part to help speed up the recovery process!
Do You Live In a Flood Zone?
To find out, click here and select the “Flood Zones” layer.