Hurricane Season Is Upon Us. Are You Ready?


Technically speaking, the hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30th. Few folks realize that the season really is half the year. Having lived in Miami most of my life, I have become quite familiar hurricanes. So far this season, we have dodged serious hurricane damage, thankfully.

In this current 2010 hurricane season, the following named storms have come, some threatened USA shores, but mostly skated on to Central America or off the Eastern seaboard. Although the US hasn’t been severely effected (at least not yet), it doesn’t mean that complacency should set in. Afterall, the first several named storms that have made it to the Western Hemisphere include Hurricane Alex (late June), Tropical Storm Bonnie (late July), TS Colin (early August), Hurricane Danielle (late August), Hurricane Earl (early September), TS Fiona (early September), TS Gaston (early September), TS Hermine (early-September), and now Hurricane Igor and Julia are starting to make their respective path across the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Cetner (part of NOAA) forecasted 19 to 23 named storms before the season began.

The intensity of the seasonal storms are often categorized by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (SHSS). This scale classifies the strength of the storm(s) as Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm, followed by Hurricane Categories 1 through 5. This SSHS is sometimes criticized for not taking into account the geographic size of the strom nor the amount of precipitation it produces. Nevertheless, it is the most commonly used scale to communicate the intensity of an approaching storm.

Below is a summary of scale:

Tropical Depression: 0-38 mph winds

Tropical Storm: 39-73 mph winds

Category 1: 74-95 mph winds

Category 2: 96-110 mph winds

Category 3: 111-130 mph winds

Category 4: 131-155 mph winds

Category 5: 156+ mph winds

Of course we remember the tragedies which followed the more recent hurricanes such as Hugo (1989), Andrew (1992), and the catestrophic hurricane Katrina (2005). These are all devasting storms. However, a storm does not have to reach Category 5 to create damage or even result in fatalities. For example, Hurricane Alex resulted in 51 direct/indirect deaths and almost $2 billion in property damage while peaking at Category 2 (105 mph) status earlier this season.

Now that we have a basic understanding of hurricanes, how does one go about preparing for an approaching storm?

First, consider that there are plenty of online resources available to help individuals and employers prepare for a major storm. The emphasis ought to be placed on PREPARE — as in… not waiting until the day before the storm/emergency is predicted to arrive. Below are a list of resources provided by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) and NOAA.

Ready.gov for business and Ready.gov for individuals.

National Hurricane Center / Weather Service.

Pre-planning is the key. Businesses ought to consider how they will maintain business continuity by addressing complex issues according to their specific industry, firm size, scope of business, and other factors. Developing and implementing a plan will greatly improve the likelihood that your firm will survive the emergency (storm or otherwise) and recover back to normal operations.

Engaging your employees in the planning process will not only help ensure enhanced communications but also improve the emergency response plan itself. Of course, the plan must be practiced on a periodic basis through drills and exercises to ensure everyone can implement the plan when it matters most. Futhermore, employers ought to promote preparedness so that employees take these helpful habits home to protect their families and personal property. In the event of a real emergency, the employer will need to effectively implement the portion of the plan which keeps employees/customers informed as well as facilitating employee health and safety. Lastly, employers ought to take steps to physically protect their assets through utility service interruptions, physical plant damage, obtaining appropriate insurance coverages, and so forth.

It’s important to start keeping track of this next storm system making it’s way across the Atlantic. Current location is roughly 800 miles east of Puerto Rico and tracking in a NW direction at 10 mph. It’s possible that Igor could make landfall in the US sometime early next week. Hurricane Igor – currently a Category 4 hurricane – may increase to Category 5 as it approaches the East Coast.

Prepare now! Click on the links provided above or contact Prometrix Consulting to get started today!

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