Hurricane season approaches
May 15, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Hawaii's hurricane season is in effect, June 1-November 30.
To prepare, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii will conduct its annual hurricane exercise, Makani Pahili, Hawaiian for strong winds, May 29-June 8.
Makani Pahili is a joint exercise that involves the State of Hawaii and all branches of the armed services here in Hawaii.
Key exercise objectives are to test disaster preparedness plans and procedures, to test alert procedures and communications systems, and to test select safe havens and family assistance centers at both Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
Residents and the workforce should understand hurricane terminology and categories.
A tropical depression is a system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and sustained winds not exceeding 38 mph. A tropical storm, however, is defined as sustained winds of 39-73 mph, and a hurricane when sustained winds exceed 73 mph.
A warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Conversely, a watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
Preparing for a hurricane becomes difficult when winds reach tropical storm conditions, so preparedness is key.
The winds of a hurricane -- by definition 74 miles mph or more -- can be dangerous. Understanding the break down of a hurricane's categories allows for better preparation, according to Francis Smith, emergency manager, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, USAG-HI.
"For some of Hawaii's lightly built homes and other structures, wind forces alone might be destructive," Smith said. "One of the greatest threats from a hurricane's winds is its cargo of flying objects, such as lawn furniture."
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1-5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.
Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures.
Smith said, during a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, residents should anchor down loose items in their yards and move objects like grills and patio-type furniture inside. He also said residents near the coastline should evacuate to shelter inland.
In the event of a Category 4 or 5 storm, before residents evacuate to a shelter or safe haven, they need to turn off the electricity and water in their homes, Smith added.
"Knowing the category of the hurricane allows you to anticipate the intensity of the storm, so you can be better prepared," Smith said.
Smith went on to say, in the event of an evacuation, listen to the radio or television for the location of emergency shelters/safe havens and for other instructions from local emergency officials.
"Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes and take your disaster supplies kit with you," he added. "Use travel routes specified by local authorities, and don't use shortcuts, because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous."
• Category 1
Winds: 74--95 mph
Storm surge: 4--5 feet
Minimal damage to plants and signs.
• Category 2
Winds: 96--110 mph
Storm surge: 6--8 feet
Some flooding, minimal damage to mobile homes, roofs and small crafts.
• Category 3
Winds: 111--130 mph
Storm surge: 9--12 feet
Extensive damage to small buildings and low-lying roofs.
• Category 4
Winds: 131--155 mph
Storm surge: 13--18 feet
Extreme damage with destroyed roofs and mobile homes, downed trees, cut off roads and flooded homes.
• Category 5
Winds: Exceeding 155 mph
Storm surge: Over 18 feet
Catastrophic damage destroying most buildings and vegetation, cutting off major roads and flooding homes.