By Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian
The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and the Eastern Pacific season began May 15. With factors like global warming1 and urban sprawl2 affecting storm intensity and impact, the need to be prepared ahead of time is more important than ever.
Researchers have found evidence of Atlantic hurricane activity going as far back as 3,000 years ago.4 The naming of storms began in the early 19th century. As the World Meteorological Organization explains, named storms can “facilitate tropical cyclone/hurricane disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction.”5
Atlantic Pronunciation Guide (PDF)
National Hurricane Center – Tropical Cyclone Names (with pronunciation guide)6
The U.S. has calculated death tolls and costs of hurricanes since 1851.7 The deadliest storm on record occurred in 1900, when the Galveston Hurricane led to the deaths of 8,000 people. In comparison, Hurricane Katrina, the third deadliest hurricane, directly claimed the lives of 1,200.7
Despite all we have learned from the past, more advanced storm-tracking technology, and improved communication strategies to alert residents of an oncoming storm, some residents choose to stay put. A 2006 Harvard School of Public Health study finds:
“One-third (33%) of residents said if government officials said they had to evacuate due to a major hurricane this season, they would not or are unsure if they would leave. Homeowners (39%), whites (41%) and long-term residents (45%) are the groups most likely to ride out a major hurricane. People with children under 18 are less likely to remain in their homes (26%). Mobile home owners are no more likely to evacuate than the general public.”8
During a storm, be prepared and listen for weather service announcements. Weather alert services come in two forms. The National Weather Service issues hurricane watches within 48 hours of the storm hitting. This allows for time to prepare your home and review your plans. Hurricane warnings come within 36 hours of the storm hitting, giving you time to finish preparing your home and evacuate, if necessary. Listen to the TV, radio, or other media tracking the storm’s progress for recommendations on what course to take. The National Weather Service alerts as to the path, speed, and wind force of the approach hurricane.
Here are some further resources to help prepare you for a future event:
Tropical Cyclones: A Preparedness Guide
Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness
National Hurricane Center – Be Ready
National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health
1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. (2013). Global warming and hurricanes. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes
2. National Wildlife Federation. (2006). Increasing vulnerability to hurricanes: Global warming’s wake-up call for the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Retrieved from http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Global-Warming/Hurricanes_FNL_LoRes.ashx
3. NASA Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Branch. (n.d.). Hurricane Georges. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://meso-a.gsfc.nasa.gov/rsd/images/Georges.html
4. National Hurricane Center. (1997). The deadliest Atlantic tropical cyclones, 1492-1996. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastdeadly.shtml
5. World Meteorological Organization. (n.d.). Tropical cyclone programme. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/tcp/Storm-naming.html
6. National Hurricane Center. (n.d.). Tropical cyclone names. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml
7. Blake, E. S., Landsea, C. W., & Gibney, E. J. (2011). The deadliest, costliest, and most intense United States tropical cyclones from 1851 to 2010 (and other frequently requested hurricane facts) (No. NOA A Technical Memorandum NWS NHC – 6). NOAA. Retrieved from http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/general/lib/lib1/nhclib/nwstechmemos/nws-nhc-6.pdf
8. Blendon, R. J., Benson, J. M., Buhr, T., Weldon, K. J., & Herrmann, M. J. (2006). High-risk area hurricane survey (No. 20). Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/horp/files/2012/09/WP20HighRiskHurricane.pdf
Thanks, this is an interesting list and useful post. I live in Charleston, SC, a hurricane-prone area of the country. I wouldn’t have expected to find this on a Health and Books blog site!
Glad that you found the post helpful. We highlight history and health issues from all across the spectrum.
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