Hurricane Season Is Here. Now Is the Time to Prepare.

Posted On July 9, 2024— Written By
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Ominous clouds with sign "Hurricane Season Ahead"

In case you haven’t heard, this year’s hurricane season is setting up to be a doozy. According to NOAA National Weather Service, forecasters predict “above-normal” hurricane activity this season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. This forecast is based on several factors, including La Niña conditions over the Pacific Ocean and near-record water temperatures in the Atlantic. NOAA is predicting 17 – 25 named hurricanes this season, potentially 4 – 7 major hurricanes ranging from category 3 through 5, which means winds of 111 mph or greater. While any predication has an element of uncertainty, forecasters have 70% confidence this hurricane season will be a major one. Beryl, this season’s first named hurricane, now barreling through the Caribbean, is currently a category 4 with windspeeds around 155 mph. It is the earliest named hurricane to ever form in the North Atlantic. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.

Now is not too early to begin thinking about – and preparing for – a hurricane coming through our area.

One challenge in preparing for a hurricane is that each has its own personality. One may have heavy winds and take down trees or blow off roof tops; some, like Florence and Michael in 2018, may drop a torrent of rain. I remember thinking, as Florence blew through, “that wasn’t too bad”, but then Michael followed with more rain which eventually poured through the chimneys and walls of the old house I had moved into just a few months before.

N.C. State University has hurricane preparedness tips that can assist in the planning process. There are tasks that can be done ahead of time, and some that can wait until a threat is eminent, but having a plan is an important step to being ready to mitigate potential damage from a hurricane.

First, plan how to prevent wind and water damage. Review your yard: what items could be turned into damaging missiles during high winds? The list may include hanging baskets and potted plants, lawn furniture, tools, toys, bicycles, birdfeeders, and doghouses, just to name some common items found in yards. Perhaps a weekend can be devoted to picking up and stowing safely away all but the most used items, with a plan to move the rest if a hurricane is on its way. You’ll have the satisfaction of having a clean yard and a little less to do during the emergency if you take care of some things now.

Other items to consider: do you need to purchase tie-downs for a camper or boat? Check gutters and downspouts to see if they are clogged and need cleaning before heavy rains back up and cause damage. If you don’t have a tarp and rope, consider making those purchases in the event of roof damage so you can quickly make temporary repairs. One item on the NC State list (which could have really helped me in 2018, had I known) use plywood to cover a gable vent to prevent water from coming in and damaging the attic and walls below.

Inventory emergency supplies and purchase as needed to have on hand such as: Drinking water: make sure you have an emergency water supply of one gallon per person per day; plan to have water to last for at least three days. If you have an emergency water supply already, if it’s over 6 months old it should be replaced. Check your first aid kit and re-supply as needed; gas up all vehicles ahead of the storm; Make sure all flashlights have fresh batteries; refill prescriptions; stock up on cleaning supplies such as paper towels, sanitizing cleaners, trash bags, and hand sanitizer.

Consider the effects of power outages and make preparations: Have sufficient cash on hand as power outages may prevent using credit cards or other digital forms of payment. Fill a bathtub with water to use for flushing and cleaning; if you have a large freezer, freeze jugs of water which can be moved to the refrigerator to help keep things cool (if planning to drink the water as ice melts, don’t use empty milk jugs as the milk residue can contaminate the water). Stock shelf stable food and don’t forget a hand crank can opener; keep laptops and phones charged up prior to the storm hitting, and try to preserve the power by limiting their use as much as possible.

Taking time now to make a plan and undertake at least some preparations in advance means you’ll have less to do during the critical days and hours if and when a hurricane heads our way. To read more helpful guidance on disaster preparedness, visit N.C. State University’s webpage  Or, call your county Extension office at 910-997-8255.