WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - WECT's weather team sat down to answer questions for our current Hurricane Survival Guide. However, all the great answers couldn't fit into our guide.
So we're sharing them here with you.
What was the most important lesson learned from Hurricane Irene?
Robb Ellis: Irene surprised in many ways, including the duration of the wind and heavy rain of the storm. Although Irene made landfall up the coast on Emerald Isle, the effects were felt for nearly 2 days in southeastern North Carolina. Because the storm was so large and had a very wide wind field, the gusty winds and rain started well before landfall, and continued well after landfall. The strongest winds occurred on the back side of Irene, and led to the largest number of power outages as the storm was pulling away. With so many power outages, social media and mobile devices became an even more important avenue for the First Alert Weather Team to keep people updated on the latest conditions, storm location and how much more was coming.
Colin Hackman: Preparation is the most valuable asset. I feel that our area had another good test run for readying for a land falling tropical system. Many people made the commitment to be ready in any way they possibly could. Some evacuated. Some enacted a hurricane survival plan laid out in previous years. Some saw the need and enacted one for the first time. No matter what the outcome, we are more prepared now than we were before, that is the lasting physical effect. However it is important to note the psychological effect of a near miss as well. In my experience at WECT since 1996 I have actually heard people in the community say that "It's only a Category 2", or "the last one missed us, this one will too." We have to cautiously guard against this line of thinking. Maximum preparation each and every time gives us the maximum chance of survival.
Eric Davis: We were lucky! A few days before Irene struck the North Carolina coast it was a category 3 hurricane. The storm weakened to a category 1 before it struck Cape Lookout. In addition the actual track of the storm was further east than some of the forecasts 24 hours before landfall. This combination of a weaker hurricane and a track further from our coast limited the storm's impact. A storm that maintained its category 3 status and came closer to our coastline would have been much more destructive.
Does the active 2011 hurricane season have an impact of the upcoming 2012 season?
Robb Ellis: As each season approaches, preparedness is always key when it comes to hurricanes. For the optimists out there, there is a positive side to having an active season : it keeps the dangers of hurricane season fresh in the minds of North Carolina residents. During inactive periods, complacency about hurricane preparedness becomes a concern. When hurricanes are out of sight, they are out of mind. An active season ensures that people are on their toes, and consistently prepared for each approaching hurricane season.
What lessons did last year's tornado outbreak teach you?
Eric Davis: It was a reminder that big tornado outbreaks don't just happen in "tornado alley". Occasionally "tornado alley" conditions come to southeast North Carolina. That is why every family needs a programmable weather radio and a severe weather action plan.
What time do you have to get up to get on the air at 5:00 am?
Colin Hackman: Around 2:15 am. Usually I am in the building between 3:00 and 3:30 In the morning. Believe it or not, however, people are already here working getting Carolina in the Morning ready for air.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Robb Ellis: Everyday I'm thrilled to be able to go to work in a career that I dreamt about as a child. North Carolina's weather is a meteorologist's playground. The beautiful days make for a wonderful place to live, but the dangerous storms make for challenging forecasting. From hurricanes and tornadoes to snowstorms and flooding, North Carolina sees it all. And when it comes to severe storms, our area sees its fair share. Most severe storms in southeastern NC occur during the afternoon and evening. As the evening meteorologist I take that threat seriously, and work hard to provide accurate forecasts, and valuable information in the event of severe weather.
Do people really know how bad hurricanes can be?
Eric Davis: After a run of many hurricanes affecting southeast North Carolina in the 90s, many newer residents have never experienced a direct strike by a large hurricane. If a big hurricane hits there could be: widespread structural damage to many buildings, loss of power for weeks to months, and water shortages.
If you're on the air all morning when do you eat?
Colin Hackman: Ask my coanchors. I literally eat all morning. I am usually grinding away on whatever food I'm into for the month. Right now it's oatmeal.
What is the scariest storm you have ever covered?
Eric Davis: When I lived in Lafayette, LA I covered a Hurricane Lili in 2002. Lili was a category 4 storm in the Gulf of Mexico 24 hour before landfall and we worried about massive loss of life from storm surge flooding. Luckily, the storm weakened rapidly prior to landfall. Still there was a lot of a damage and two people in Louisiana died.
What time do you get finished?
Colin Hackman: Most days I'm out the door by 1:00 pm. That gives me the afternoon to enjoy our areas awesome weather. Usually I am out coaching high school runners by 3:30. Makes for a packed day!
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