WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Hurricane awareness week -- Are you ready?

Posted May 23, 2011 2:20 p.m. EDT

This week is Hurricane Awareness Week in North Carolina. Hurricane season starts June 1 — that's next Wednesday! — and lasts all the way through November. Now’s the time to get ready for the possibility of a hurricane hitting North Carolina. Every family should have a disaster preparedness kit that includes bottled water, canned food that doesn’t need to be warmed up, batteries, flashlights and a battery-operated radio.  These items can be used for any type of disaster!   Being prepared is the first step to staying ahead of any storm. That fact became very evident after the killer tornadoes we had in April.

This looks like it may end up being another busy year for hurricanes not only in the Atlantic but also the Gulf. One of the biggest factors that point to a busy season is the warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic. This is where a good portion of the hurricanes we see begin and strengthen as they move westward. As a matter of fact, we have seen this current set up across the Pacific and the Atlantic before in past hurricane seasons. One was 1989 when Hurricane Hugo devastated South Carolina. The other two years include 1999 when Bertha and Fran wreaked havoc along our coastline and 2003 with Isabel. Isabel hit our Outer Banks the hardest. It was the worst storm they had seen in twenty five years.

The state of North Carolina juts out into the Atlantic farther than any other state along the east coast. This fact makes us very vulnerable when storms move in from the east. Did you know that a major hurricane threatens North Carolina at least once every eleven years? It isn’t just the coast that has to worry about hurricanes. According to the National Weather Service, any given year we have a thirty three percent chance that a tropical storm or hurricane will track directly over central NC. If you look at statistics for every three years, our chance jumps to seventy percent.

The months of August and September are North Carolina’s most active months but don’t count out June or July. Just look at Hurricane for proof of that. Now is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to any type of disaster. Whether it be a tornado outbreak or a major hurricane heading in our direction, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.