PUBLIC INFORMATION MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
243 PM EDT MON AUG 16 2004


                    ...ARE YOU REALLY PREPARED?...  

NOW THAT WE ARE IN THE HEART OF HURRICANE SEASON, THE NATIONAL 
WEATHER SERVICE WANTS TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE PREPARED FOR A HURRICANE. 
RECENT EVENTS OFFER A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO ANALYZE YOUR STATE OF 
READINESS. HERE ARE A FEW QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:  

DID YOU KNOW THAT THE AVERAGE 24-HOUR TRACK FORECAST ERROR FOR A 
TROPICAL CYCLONE IS ABOUT 100 MILES? IN OTHER WORDS, IF A HURRICANE 
IS FORECAST TO HIT APALACHICOLA 24 HOURS FROM NOW, THE ACTUAL 
POSITION COULD END UP BEING ANYWHERE FROM DESTIN TO STEINHATCHEE. 
THE AVERAGE TRACK ERROR FOR A 3-DAY FORECAST IS 230 MILES! AS YOU 
CAN SEE, EVEN WITH ALL OF THE TECHNOLOGY AND IMPROVED UNDERSTANDING 
OF THE ATMOSPHERE WE STILL HAVE QUITE A BIT OF UNCERTAINTY IN OUR 
TRACK FORECASTS. THAT IS WHY HURRICANE WARNINGS ARE ISSUED FOR MUCH 
LARGER SECTIONS OF COASTLINE THAN THE OFFICIAL TRACK FORECAST MIGHT 
SUGGEST. FOR EXAMPLE, SUPPOSE A HURRICANE IS FORECAST TO HIT 
APALACHICOLA IN 24 HOURS. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE HURRICANE WARNING 
WOULD EXTEND FROM DESTIN TO STEINHATCHEE BECAUSE THOSE POINTS ARE 
WITHIN OUR AVERAGE ERROR RANGE. WE HAVE TO GIVE A SPECIFIC FORECAST 
TRACK, BUT WE RECOGNIZE THAT THERE IS AN ENVELOPE OF OTHER POSSIBLE 
TRACKS SURROUNDING OUR FORECAST TRACK, AND WE MUST WARN FOR AREAS 
WITHIN THIS ENVELOPE. THAT IS WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAKE YOUR 
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS DECISIONS BASED ON THE WARNINGS, AND NOT THE 
ACTUAL FORECAST TRACK.    

SUPPOSE A HURRICANE WARNING IS ISSUED FOR YOUR AREA BUT THE STORM IS 
EXPECTED TO ONLY REACH 110 MPH, WHICH IS JUST A CATEGORY-2 
HURRICANE. WOULD YOU EVACUATE? THERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER. 
FIRST OF ALL, THE AVERAGE WIND SPEED ERROR FOR A 24-HOUR FORECAST IS 
10 MPH. SO IT'S POSSIBLE THAT THE STORM COULD REACH 120 MPH BY 
LANDFALL, WHICH WOULD BE A MAJOR HURRICANE. BUT THIS IS THE AVERAGE 
FORECAST ERROR. THERE WILL BE TIMES WHEN THE WIND FORECAST WILL BE 
OFF BY EVEN MORE THAN 10 MPH...ESPECIALLY FOR SOME STORMS THAT 
UNDERGO RAPID INTENSIFICATION PHASES. THIS CAN BE A FRIGHTENING 
SCENARIO WHEN YOU ARE PREPARED FOR A CATEGORY-2 STORM AND END UP 
WITH A CATEGORY-4. IT MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE TO EVACUATE BY THE TIME 
YOU REALIZE THE STORM HAS INTENSIFIED. BE SURE YOU ARE IN A 
WELL-CONSTRUCTED BUILDING AWAY FROM WATER BEFORE MAKING A DECISION 
TO NOT EVACUATE. MOBILE HOMES DO NOT OFFER ADEQUATE SHELTER AND 
SHOULD BE EVACUATED WHEN A HURRICANE THREATENS. IF YOU ARE UNDECIDED 
ABOUT WHETHER YOU SHOULD EVACUATE, ASK YOURSELF WHAT YOU WOULD DO IF 
THE HURRICANE APPROACHING YOUR AREA STRENGTHENED A CATEGORY MORE 
THAN FORECAST.   

DO YOU HAVE A DISASTER PREPAREDNESS KIT? IF NOT, NOW IS THE TIME TO 
GET ONE. THIS SHOULD INCLUDE AMPLE FIRST AID SUPPLIES, BATTERIES, 
FLASHLIGHTS, SEVERAL DAYS WORTH OF WATER AND NON-PERISHABLE FOOD, A 
CAN OPENER, AND PLENTY OF CASH. YOU CAN AVOID THE LAST MINUTE 
SHOPPING RUSH AND THE RISK OF NOT BEING ABLE TO GET THESE SUPPLIES 
IF A HURRICANE THREATENS BY GETTING THESE SUPPLIES NOW. A DISASTER 
PREPAREDNESS KIT IS ALSO GOOD TO HAVE ON HAND IF OTHER DISASTERS 
OCCUR...ESPECIALLY IN THIS ERA OF TERROR THREATS. ONCE YOU HAVE A 
DISASTER KIT AND A PLAN YOU WILL HAVE THE PEACE OF MIND OF KNOWING 
YOU ARE PREPARED FOR UNEXPECTED EMERGENCIES. 

$$

FOURNIER


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