Stay Out of Harm's Way When RVing in Hurricane Zones
By Judy Jackson, Edmonton Journal.
June 1st is the beginning of the six-month hurricane season. Predictions are that 2010 may be a very active season due to a waning El Nino and warmer waters in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
If your RVing plans include travel to anywhere in the U.S. southeast, Atlantic coastal states and provinces, or Gulf of Mexico states, you need to know a little bit about hurricanes.
First, hurricanes are big, really really big. The average hurricane is 200-400 miles across. Big ones will be 550-plus miles.
Second, they don't occur suddenly, like in the movies. It takes days and weeks for hurricanes to build from tropical depression, to tropical storm, and finally to hurricane. There is plenty of warning before a hurricane hits.
Third, hurricanes don't travel very fast. They average 10-20 miles an hour, though on rare occasions they can move along as fast as 70 mph or creep along at two or three.
Fourth, hurricanes don't travel in straight lines. They take curving paths, often looping and backtracking and zig-zagging.
Fifth, hurricanes can have tremendous amounts of rain or very little.
Sixth, hurricanes have an eye, the centre of the storm. The eye can be from five to 120 miles across with most being 20-40. In the eye it can be eerily calm with clear skies, fooling people into thinking the storm is over, causing them to come outside to see the damage. However, once the eye passes over, there is the other half of the storm still left to endure, with sudden ferocious winds coming from the opposite direction.
Seventh, the worst winds tend to be in the northeast quadrant of the storm.
Eight, the sustained winds of a hurricane (74 to over 190 mph) are bad and cause a lot of damage. However, hurricanes tend to spawn many tornadoes which cause much of the damage.
Ninth, flying debris can be a bigger hazard than the wind itself.
Tenth, hurricanes are tropical but are not restricted to tropical areas, the coast, or the summer. Some of the worst and most damaging hurricanes have hit in the Carolinas and northward in September. August and September are the months with the most hurricanes.
What should you do if a hurricane is headed your way? Don't risk it. Evacuate -and do so early. Because hurricanes are so large and their path of travel is so variable, it will take time, maybe days, to drive your way out of danger.
If you wait too long before evacuating it's likely you will get caught in a major traffic snarl along with all the other late evacuees, and you may not reach safety before the rain and winds of the hurricane or its outer bands reach you.
You may run out of fuel. There will likely be fuel shortages (because everybody is buying and stockpiling fuel) and you may not be able to buy fuel to complete your evacuation. If you must stay put, get prepared.
Get as much water as you can - fill bottles, tubs, tanks, buckets, anything you can find with water.
Have plenty of nonperishable food and food that doesn't have to be cooked, heated, prepared or refrigerated.
Have a good supply of drinks and juices.
Be sure you have a mechanical can opener.
Have a way to cook food other than with electricity, such as a grill that uses wood, charcoal, or gas.
Get plenty of batteries
Be sure you have plenty of personal items, diapers for babies.
Have a good supply of first aid items.
Be sure to have plenty of necessary prescription medications -- get refills.
If at all possible, cover your windows.
Position your RV so that it noses into the wind if you can. Be aware that the wind direction will change as the storm moves through.
Close vents, latch doors.
Park close to a building on the side opposite of the expected predominent wind direction.
Move your RV away from trees -far enough that it can't be reached if trees are blown over.
Have a portable radio/TV so that you can keep up with the latest on the hurricane track and local news and conditions.
Above all, think, use your common sense, don't take risks, be wary, be safe.
Here are some websites to check for more information about hurricanes: