When we evacuated for Hurricane Floyd it took 30 minutes to leave Amelia Island, 3 hours to reach the interstate, and over 20 hours to get to Ft Walton Beach.
With Hurricane Matthew predicted to ride along the east coast, many are wondering what they should be doing to prepare.
Hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings are a great indicator of what public officials and the National Hurricane Center are thinking. Emergency Management links can be found at the end of this article.
Here are some definitions as listed by weather.gov:
Tropical Storm Watch
A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of 34 to 63 kt (39 to 73 mph) or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding. The watch does not mean that tropical storm conditions will occur. It only means that these conditions are possible.
Tropical Storm Warning
A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustaind winds of 34 to 63 kt (39 to 73 mph) or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding.
A Hurricane Watch is issued when when a tropical cyclone containing winds of 64 kt (74 mph) or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding. The watch does not mean that hurricane conditions will occur. It only means that these conditions are possible.
A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 64 kt (74 mph) or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
Often, Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches and Warnings are also issued during tropical weather advisories.
At this time you should have your hurricane supplies stocked and refilled such as prescriptions, a gallon of bottled water per person per day, non-perishable food, pet foods, flashlights and batteries, a weather radio, copies of important paperwork and copies of insurance documents, etc…Now is a good time to fill up your vehicle with gasoline, let family and friends know your evacuation plans should that become necessary, and you should always have a Plan B in case roads become congested and you cannot make it to your intended destination.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd taught us valuable lessons in evacuating millions of people, but that has been nearly two decades and our population has grown dramatically. Personally, it took me more than 20 hours to get from Fernandina to Fort Walton Beach when we evacuated for that storm. It also took over 30 minutes to get off of Amelia Island, and almost three hours just to reach the interstate.
Gas stations, grocery stores, and convenient stores will all close once evacuation orders are given, or if the power goes out. Those that remain open will run out of inventory on popular items like bread, water, batteries, and fuel.
Even if we don’t evacuate, you will need to charge your laptops, i-pads, and cell phones in case we lose electricity. You will also want to tie down lawn furniture and put loose items indoors. This is not the time to go body surfing or swimming in the ocean either.
Continue to monitor the weather channels and your local news for the latest updates and check on your neighbors if severe weather does indeed move into our area.