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Hurricane Season 2017 – be safe, be smart, be prepared

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

It seems as if we are always receiving briefs concerning the importance of being prepared. Prepared for our next fitness test, prepared for our next deployment and, around here, to be prepared for dangerous weather. Well, it’s that time of year again as June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season, which runs through the end of November. 

 

While not advocating paranoia by any means, now is an excellent time to be prepared for a potential storm strike throughout the season. As many who may have lived on the Gulf Coast are well aware, even tropical storms can have deadly consequences. Moreover, there is no reliable prediction of exactly what can happen. At times like these, we can quickly find ourselves at the mercy of Mother Nature so we must act accordingly, be smart and be safe. 

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season and a 20 percent chance of a below normal season for this year. They are also estimating that there could be 11 to 17 named storms with five to nine developing into hurricanes.

 

However, whether a hurricane season is above or below average, we should always be prepared. Now is the time to have a hurricane plan in place and have all your necessary supplies on hand throughout the season. Be sure that you and your family have an inland evacuation plan or a safe shelter to stay protected. Also, be aware of possible flood issues associated with an accompanied storm surge, and if advised to evacuate, please heed the warnings and take the necessary steps to prevent disaster. Not doing so could endanger your life.

 

In severe weather, often the only reliable manner in which to get the latest information is radio.  Hurricanes do not respect technology, and internet and phone service have the propensity to go down when a severe storm affects our area. So, although it may not be the most high tech – be sure to have a portable radio on hand, and be well stocked with batteries. 

 

Electricity will remain on for as long as it is safe, but at some point if winds get strong enough or we experience a massive storm surge, power may be disrupted. Be sure to have a good stock of flashlights – and once again, a good stock of batteries in the sizes you require.

 

Ensure that you have enough non-perishable food and clean drinking water to last each person in your household for at least three to five days. Also, make sure that you have a stock of vital prescription medications on hand, as well as any necessary baby supplies – such as formula and diapers. Lastly, as you stock up on non-perishables and essential gear for you and your family, ensure you provide special consideration for your pets. 

 

If you have small children, a supply of games and activities that do not require internet or electricity will also be helpful to keep them entertained if the lights go out.

Again, these are just some general tips, and this advice is not intended to make anyone nervous about hurricane season; just be prepared now, before the storm forms. If you happen to see any of our “World Famous Hurricane Hunters” in and around the base, take the time to thank them for what they do and the inherit risks they experience flying into the eyes of hurricanes. Also, thank them by respecting the associated warnings issued from our state and local emergency managers. Our combined efforts help reduce the cone of uncertainty and aid the National Hurricane Center improve the accuracy of their forecasts and ultimately your safety.

 

The 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is the only U.S. Department of Defense organization that conducts these types of dangerous missions, and they provide 99 percent of all operational data to the nation’s Hurricane Warning Program. Until Hurricane Matthew and Hermine last year, the U.S. had not been hit by a major hurricane since 2005 (Wilma); additionally, the 2013 and 2014 seasons were the slowest on record for the Atlantic and Gulf region. This type of reprieve from severe weather breeds apathy. 

 

It only takes one tropical storm or hurricane to change your life and community. It only takes one storm to make it a bad year. For every potential storm threat, we ask that you be safe, be smart, and be prepared. Always remain vigilant and never get caught unprepared for severe weather.