Hurricane Season is a physical and emotional roller coaster. It is a season of storms... and rumors of storms. It is a season of action... and anxiety. So how can you possibly stress less? Follow these rules!
We live here, and we get it: the rhythm of summer. It can lull you! The balmy temperatures, the mellow breezes, the slow roll of an afternoon thundershower... If you're living right, your toughest decision in a day might be "pool vs. beach" or "burger vs. dog."
But all the while... the ocean is warming, energizing, and becoming more conducive for hurricanes. So don't let yourself fall asleep only to be rudely awakened by a storm! Your First Alert Weather Team will keep you informed of any and all brewing storms… all season long.
"This is an obvious one," you might be saying. And you're right! But it needs to be said. In an emergency weather situation, fresh water, food, and medicine are not "wants." They're not "it'd be nice if we hads." They're needs. Get them early and go in with a plan.
Rule 1 and 2 are close cousins. Staying vigilant and prepared are the best ways to ensure your stress level doesn't spike from 0 to 100 in a hurricane situation. Your WECT Weather App will have continuous forecast updates, interactive storm tracking, and a complete hurricane prep guide… all season long.
Now, the rules become more nuanced, but no less important. Like this one: be patient. Understand that the average life span of a hurricane – from inception to dissipation – is one to three weeks, and that the responsible answer to the question "Is it going to hit us?" is very often "It is too soon to know for sure."
"Cape Verde hurricanes" are the greatest tests in patience. These storms form near Africa's Cape Verde and usually take more than 15 days to cross the Atlantic! In almost all Cape Verde hurricane situations, meteorologists won't be able to say for certain how the storm might affect the Carolinas until the storm reaches or passes the Caribbean Islands. That's the benchmark: the Caribbean Islands... and it takes a little while for storms to reach that benchmark. So, please: patience!
Consider two scenarios… A Category 1 Hurricane will affect the Cape Fear Region. A Category 3 Hurricane will affect the Cape Fear Region.
Now consider the question… Which scenario is worse? "The Cat. 3, of course!" you might say. But a better answer is, "I don't know for sure. I need more information."
Look beyond categories. Look beyond labels. Focus on *impacts.* Don't just ask, "What will affect me?" The better question is, "How will it affect me?" Hurricane categories only account for maximum sustained winds within a storm – nothing else – and while winds are important, they're far from the only indicator of storm severity.
So, by all means, it's okay to ask… How strong are the winds and what category is that? But also make sure you ask things like…
At what angle is the storm going to impact the coast? Hurricane Hugo of 1989 and Hurricane Earl of 2010, if we want to label them, were both Category 4 storms that both impacted the Carolinas. Big difference though: Earl brushed the Carolinas while Hugo slammed in at a 90-degree angle. One storm brought fleeting and forgettable rain, wind, and surf impacts. The other: deadly or at least life-altering destruction and surge. Track angle and trajectory matters.
How large and how quick is the storm? Large, lumbering tropical systems can bring 1,000% more rainfall and a far higher freshwater flooding potential than small, speedy storms. Record flood-producing Hurricanes Floyd and Matthew were "only" Category 1 storms when they affected eastern North Carolina, but they were very big, slow, and wet.
Thanks for trusting your First Alert Weather Team to communicate the nuances of a storm, to go beyond the labels and focus on specific impacts.
For every tropical cyclone – that's a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane – that forms in the Atlantic, the experienced and accredited meteorologists with National Hurricane Center issues an official forecast track cone.
The National Hurricane Center will update a storm's forecast cone every six hours as long as the storm is alive. The cone will shift at times, but it's almost always more stable than a cynical person might give it credit for.
Learn the cone. Love the cone. Live by the cone. When you're done here, we encourage you visit your First Alert Weather Team's brief tutorial on understanding National Hurricane Center forecast cones: "CONEOLOGY."
At any given time in hurricane season, media and social media will be saturated with both storm forecasts and storm forecast models. Knowing the difference between the two is absolutely crucial as you assess your threat level in a storm.
Forecast models are computer-generated simulations of storm activity. Each day, hundreds of different models – each with a different mix of atmospheric physics and math – develop scenarios for the strength, track, and evolution of any given storm. In pouring over this suite of models, you can almost always find one to show you what you want to see.
Want to go online and find a computer model run that shows a Category 3 Hurricane slamming North Carolina? Horrific as such a case may be, in just about any given day in the summer or fall, you can!
Just the same, you'll be able to find a forecast model that tracks a storm of interest well clear of our coast.
Think of computer forecast models as raw ingredients. An actual forecast is the finished product and, in a hurricane situation, that is what you're looking for.
Forecasts are crafted by human meteorologists – professionals who understand the patterns of the atmosphere and, quite importantly, the strengths, weaknesses, and biases of computer models. Are forecasts perfect? Of course not. But, human-smoothed forecasts are statistically more accurate and vastly more consistent than computer models. Trust your First Alert Weather Team to deliver the highest quality forecasts from the National Hurricane Center – refined for this area – all season long.
Since you can find computer forecast models of hurricanes almost anywhere – web sites, message boards, social media accounts – you may be tempted to watch their every move. Please try not to. They change – very often wildly – and if you're not careful they can take you on an unnecessary emotional roller coaster ride.
Trust your First Alert Weather Team to stay away from the high highs and low lows in favor of a more consistent message – on TV, online, and on your WECT Weather App.
Consider these two scenarios… The 8 a.m. run of the GFS computer forecast model generates a Category 3 Hurricane that will smack the Carolina Coast in five days. The 8 p.m. run of the same model generates the same hurricane but tracks it relatively harmlessly 300 miles east of the Carolinas.
Which model would go viral on social media? Obviously: the land falling hurricane. Every. Single. Time.
Here's a forecast you can take to the bank: Every hurricane season, there is a 100% chance of provocatively hurricane models featuring wicked and scary landfalls "going viral" on social media. Thankfully, though, those viral images don't pan out 99% of the time. Please don't fall for the hype. Trust your First Alert Weather Team to give you the whole picture.
We are YOUR First Alert Weather Team. We live, shop, worship, and raise our families locally and we put our names and faces on every one of our forecast products.