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Though the national hurricane season normally runs from June 1 through November 30, the peak potential for hurricane and tropical storm activity in New Jersey runs from mid-August through the end of October.
The combination of warm ocean water, humid air and consistent winds contributes to the formation of “tropical cyclones” – low-pressure systems of circulating winds, clouds and thunderstorms – over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
As they gain strength, these cyclones are classified as tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale rates hurricane strengths, from Category 1 to Category 5. Most of these storms remain over the ocean without affecting the U.S. coastline. When they approach land, tropical storms and hurricanes can be extremely deadly and destructive – even as far north as New Jersey, and even when they do not make landfall here.
The key threats from an approaching tropical storm or hurricane are WIND, STORM SURGE, FLOODING, and the potential for TORNADOES.
Hurricane WINDS can reach 74-95 mph for a Category 1 storm, to above 155 mph for a Category 5 storm.
The STORM SURGE is a dome of ocean water the hurricane pushes ahead of itself. At its peak a storm surge can be 25 feet high and 50-100 miles wide. The storm surge can devastate coastal communities as it sweeps ashore.
The thunderstorms and torrential rains that accompany a hurricane can create dangerous and deadly floods or flashfloods.
Seventy percent of hurricanes making landfall spawn at least one tornado.
Preparing properly for a hurricane begins long before a storm ever hits.
As with other types of emergencies, you should prepare yourself and your family by creating an Emergency Supply Kit and a Family Disaster Plan. Be sure to educate yourself about the emergencies that typically occur in your locale.
If you are a citizen with special needs, call 2-1-1 or visit NJ Register Ready to provide information that will help emergency responders to better plan to serve you in times of emergency.
The first line of defense against the effects of a disaster is personal preparedness. During an emergency, the government and other agencies may not be able to meet your needs. It is important for all citizens to make their own emergency plans and prepare for their own care and safety in an emergency.
Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects (such as photographs) where they won't get damaged. If major flooding is a possibility, consider putting them in a storage facility.
Read FEMA's informative press release regarding things that can be done now that will protect your home from damage when a storm hits. Protecting a Home from Storms and Flooding Begins on the Inside
Make plans to secure your property.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
The Red Cross sets up shelters for people who must evacuate. Find a Red Cross shelter.
Plan for Pet Care If you are evacuated, you need to bring your pets with you but pets are typically not allowed to stay at a shelter. The NJ Department of Agriculture recommends that you ask a dependable friend or relative who lives some distance from the evacuation area if you and your pets can stay with them until the all clear is given. An alternative is to find a pet friendly motel.
Learn what you can do to prepare for emergencies and protect your pet.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) has devoted many of its Web pages to educating citizens on the most responsible way to approach hurricane season. Learn more.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has done the same on a national level. Learn more.
Helpnjnow.org is a dynamic, interactive web-based resource providing education, direction, information and tools for people to help themselves and others in a disaster. When there is no active disaster in the state, the website provides information about how to prepare for future disasters, including how you can become certified disaster volunteer. When a disaster strikes, the site will offer guidance on where donations are needed (monetary and material), where people can volunteer and a link to NJ 2-1-1 so that you can find assistance for disaster-related needs.
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members give critical support to first responders in emergencies, provide immediate assistance to victims, organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts. New Jersey boasts the largest CERT contingent in the nation with 12,000 members and growing. Become a part of the CERT team today by calling 609-963-6900 ext. 6995.
The FEMA site offers many helpful guides devoted to preparing, responding and recovering from hurricanes. Take time to learn more by visiting these FEMA web pages.