Weather

An East Carolina University student checks the weather on their iPhone.

As North Carolina prepares for hurricane impacts through Nov. 30, state officials and East Carolina University staff discuss the outlook of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season and recommended safety precautions.

Kathy Delk, emergency manager of ECU, said this year’s hurricane season is predicted to be above average for the Atlantic Ocean regions, which could possibly carry into areas of eastern North Carolina.

“What it’s (National Weather Service) predicting is 14 to 21 named storms, six to ten hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes,” Delk said.

The university has an active partnership with the National Weather Service (NWS), Delk said, who notifies ECU’s emergency weather system of upcoming weather events to be aware of, ranging from extreme heat to upcoming hurricanes.

Delk said if a natural disaster is approaching, information will become more frequent. If impact is expected, she said there are conference calls or webinars that take place typically twice a day leading up to the storm.

“They (NWS) are very good about providing information and they have lots of tools that show impact and we’re not right on the coast,” Delk said. “So it’s not the storm search that we worry about, but the river flooding or the localized flooding from rain.”

Delk said ECU is also partnered with local emergency management in Pitt County. She said the North Carolina Emergency Management Agency sends out weather forecasts alongside information from the NWS. As information is received, she said preparations are made as soon as possible to best prepare for emergency weather.

It is always recommended for individuals to stay informed about emergency weather, Delk said. She said the minimum recommendation for emergency preparation includes three days worth of food, clothing, medication and other related items. However, she said a week’s worth of supplies is always a safe guideline to follow.

Delk said ECU ensures students are informed about emergency weather so they can make preparations if they’d prefer to go home or make plans for evacuation. She said students who live in off-campus apartments should especially pay close attention to weather conditions if they are planning to be on vacation or out of town.

“Making sure you're (students) aware of what the weather here is gonna be if you’re leaving to go on spring break, or fall break or whatever,” Delk said. “Just being aware of what could be coming this way.”

Brian Haines, public information officer of disaster recovery of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management, said the outlook for this year’s hurricane season, according to the NWS, is predicting about a 70% probability of between 14 to 21 main storms.

There aren’t any guarantees of hurricanes, Haines said, but there is a possibility, so North Carolinians should take precautions and prepare in advance. The likelihood of tropical storms is high, he said, and the probability of hurricanes this year is above average.

“The idea is if you’re prepared for them (natural disasters), should they hit, then you’ll have a better chance of not only surviving but recovering from them should they hit your area,” Haines said.

North Carolina’s Emergency website provides many helpful resources and information for preparedness, Haines said, including tips for a family emergency plan. He said it is important to have emergency contacts and plans of location meetings, as well as other important contact information for family members in schools in preparation for natural disasters.

Most counties in North Carolina have an emergency alert system for their county, Haines said, and individuals can sign up to receive this information. He said individuals can prepare by making an emergency supply kit, which can be used to store items such as dry foods, water, medications and other supplies in case of a power outage.

“If you lose your power, you may lose your refrigerator, in which case a lot of food may spoil so having a lot of dry goods and that kind of stuff in that kit is helpful,” Haines said. “Having blankets, just all sorts of material in there and a lot of those basic items are stuff that you probably already have, like batteries and things along those lines.”

If an individual has to take shelter at home or evacuate, Haines said the supply kit can be a great resource to utilize for survival means. He said the supplies within the kit are prepared to last between three to seven days, including supplies for pets.

Important documents such as insurance papers are important to be kept in a waterproof space, Haines said, especially for easy accessibility in case of disaster. He said a layout for creating a plan and preparing a kit can be found on North Carolina’s Emergency Website.

“There’s also a button there that says stay informed, and so having a way to get information to you, and so maybe having a weather radio, gives you an alert when there’s a weather system coming through your area, looking at your local news stations, listening to official reports, that kind of stuff is very important,” Haines said.

Norman Bryson, emergency services director of Onslow County Emergency Services, said experts have predicted hurricanes to be above average this year, and there could be three to six major hurricanes, which are above a category three level.

The best way to prepare for possible emergency weather is to make a plan and utilize resources to develop a disaster plan or supply kit, Bryson said. He said the Federal Emergency Management and North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety websites give recommendations and plans to prepare for emergency weather.

“One, are they (North Carolinians) going to stay at home and ride it out? Two, go to a local shelter or three, evacuate from the area,” Bryson said. “And people have to make decisions on those type trigger points and decide what level (of hurricane) for them to be able to leave.”

The American Red Cross website also provides information on hurricane preparedness, safety plans, precautions and other tips, Bryson said. The category level of a hurricane shouldn’t be the primary focus, he said, as there are several parts of any storm that can pose threats to the community.

Bryson said potential threats can include water and inland flooding, storm surge, and more. Within the last decade, he said inland flooding has killed more people than the storm surge, which is the water pushing in ahead of the coastline.

“People need to definitely take heed in listening to the warnings and look to see what are the other effects of the storm other than what the category is, and category is just based off of what the wind’s strength of the storm are gonna be,” Bryson said.

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