Determine your risk – May 6th

While hurricanes present the greatest risk to life and property, tropical storms and depression can be equally as disastrous. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.

2018HAT-Day1-01hpw

Hurricane Related Hazards

Storm surge

An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a tropical cyclone or other intense storm, and whose height is the difference between the observed level of the sea surface and the level that would have occurred in the absence of the cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal or astronomic high tide from the observed storm tide. Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries.

NWS National Storm Surge Hazard Maps

Flooding

Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated. Although impacts from flooding will vary from storm to storm, FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps can be a good source for identifying areas prone to flooding. Some source include:

FEMA Map Service Center

Harris County Flood Mapping Tool

Fort Bend County Flood Mapping Tool

Fort Bend County Levee Resources

Ready.Gov Flood Hazards

Winds

Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.

NWS Wind Hazards

Tornadoes

Tornadoes can accompany landfalling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.

Ready.Gov Tornado Hazards

Waves

Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone’s strong winds can pose a significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion, and damage to structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than a 1,000 miles offshore.

Understanding Key Terms

A key aspect of determining and responding to your risk is understanding various terms used by the National Hurricane Center.   Here is a shortened list of many key terms used not only during Hurricane Season, but also during non-hurricane related events.

Inundation: The flooding of normally dry land, primarily caused by severe weather events along the coasts, estuaries, and adjoining rivers. These storms, which include hurricanes and nor’easters, bring strong winds and heavy rains. The winds drive large waves and storm surge on shore, and heavy rains raise rivers. (A tsunami — a giant wave caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea or landslides into the sea — is another kind of coastal inundation, but should not be confused with storm surge.)

Hurricane / Typhoon: tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 64 kt (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or more. The term hurricane is used for Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones east of the International Dateline to the Greenwich Meridian. The term typhoon is used for Pacific tropical cyclones north of the Equator west of the International Dateline. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 categorization based on the hurricane’s intensity at the indicated time. The scale provides examples of the type of damage and impacts in the United States associated with winds of the indicated intensity. The following table shows the scale broken down by winds:

saffir-simpson-hurricane-scale

Major Hurricane: hurricane that is classified as Category 3 or higher.

Tropical Depression: tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) is 33 kt (38 mph or 62 km/hr) or less.

Tropical Storm: tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind speed (using the U.S. 1-minute average) ranges from 34 kt (39 mph or 63 km/hr) to 63 kt (73 mph or 118 km/hr).

Warning: A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property. Examples:

  • Flash Flood Warning: Issued to inform the public, emergency management, and other cooperating agencies that flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely.
  • Hurricane Warning: An announcement that sustained winds of 64 knots (74 mph or 119 km/hr) or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropicalsubtropical, or post-tropical cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
  • Storm Surge Warning: The danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclones, a subtropical cyclone or a post-tropical cyclone. The warning may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical-storm-force winds are expected to limit the time available to take protective actions for surge (e.g., evacuations). The warning may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.
  • Tornado Warning: This is issued when a tornado is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or sighted by spotters; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. They are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes.
  • Tropical Storm Warning: An announcement that sustained winds of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph or 63 to 118 km/hr) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours in association with a tropicalsubtropical, or post-tropical cyclone.

Watch: A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. Examples:

  • Flash Flood Watch: Issued to indicate current or developing hydrologic conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent.
  • Hurricane Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
  • Storm Surge Watch: The possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclones, a subtropical cyclone or a post-tropical cyclone. The watch may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical-storm-force winds are expected to limit the time available to take protective actions for surge (e.g., evacuations). The warning may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.
  • Tornado Watch: This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Their size can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They normally are issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.
  • Tropical Storm Watch: An announcement that sustained winds of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph or 63 to 118 km/hr) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours in association with a tropicalsubtropical, or post-tropical cyclone.

Forecast / Weather Sources (Besides Local News)

Harris County Flood Warning System

National Weather Service – Houston/Galveston

National Hurricane Center

Ready.Gov Hurricane Hazards

Space City Weather

USGS Texas Water Dashboard


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s