Alabama Hurricane Awareness Week

...High Wind and Tornadoes... 


The goal of hurricane preparedness week is to provide education about the hazards associated with a hurricane which will prepare you to take action as a hurricane approaches. This information may save

your life, at work, home, on the road, or on the water. Each day of Hurricane Preparedness Week features a unique topic relevant to education and awareness. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1st until November 30th for the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.


Today we will focus on the hazards of high winds and tornadoes associated with tropical systems. These are two hazards that can directly impact central Alabama.


The strongest winds associated with a tropical system are typically on the eastern side of the system, closest to feeder bands and near the center of circulation. Wind speeds usually decrease rather

significantly within 12 hours after landfall. Nonetheless, winds can stay above hurricane force, especially in gusts, well inland and can have a significant effect on central Alabama. In most cases, these severe winds last much longer than the typical severe thunderstorm and do not subside until the system moves out of the area or it weakens. In some cases, these winds may persist for many hours. Just within the last several years...Katrina (2005), Dennis (2005), Ivan (2004) and Opal (1995) all produced winds gusts ranging from 50 mph to 90 mph across central Alabama.


Before hurricane season begins, assess your property to ensure that landscaping and trees do not become a wind hazard. Trim dead wood and overhanging branches from all trees. Any tree near your

home is an immediate hazard. Central Alabama receives a majority of its damage due to fallen trees. These trees can also knock powerlines down and cause power outages.


Most mobile or manufactured homes are not built to withstand hurricane force winds. Residents of homes not meeting that level of Safety should relocate to a nearby safer structure well in advance

of an approaching tropical storm or hurricane. If a tropical storm or hurricane warning is issued for your area, secure all lawn furniture and other outside objects that could become a projectile in high wind situations.


Monitor NOAA weather radio or other local media sources closely as the tropical system approaches. Listen for detailed instructions and go to your safe room when directed to do so. Do not leave the safe

room until local officials have deemed it safe. Sometimes it appears that the winds have subsided or have gone calm when danger still exists.


In the event you lose power for an extended period of time, a generator may be necessary for your power supply. Please be aware that any gasoline run machinery produces exhaust. This exhaust can

be harmful or deadly when inhaled. Use this type of machinery only in a well ventilated area.


Tropical systems can also produce tornadoes that add to the overall destructive power. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right front quadrant of the tropical system. Many tornadoes are

associated with rain-bands that are well away from the center of circulation. In some cases, this distance can be hundreds of miles. Rita (2005) produced the second largest one day tornado outbreak in

central Alabama history and the center of circulation was some 350 miles to the west.


Preparedness is critical in these tornado situations. Tornadoes produced within a tropical system are typically fast developing and short lived but can produce significant damage or injury. Due to

this fast developing nature, warning lead times may be shorter than normal.


These tropically induced tornadoes are usually not accompanied by lightning, thunder or hail, clues that many citizens rely on in identifying potential personal risks.


When a tornado watch is issued, be prepared to take quick action. When a tornado warning is issued, move to an interior room away from all windows. As a last resort, get under heavy furniture away from

all windows.


For additional historical or preparedness information, you can visit these sites on the World Wide Web:


National Weather Service Birmingham, Alabama


National Weather Service Mobile, Alabama


National Hurricane Center

Additional info from NHC



NOAA Coastal Services Center - historical hurricane tracks is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.