Hurricanes often strike quickly and with little warning. Once a hurricane forms, it can last any where from a few days to a couple weeks. In August 2000, Hurricane Alberto tore through the Atlantic Ocean for almost 20 days!
We can’t control hurricanes, but we can prepare ourselves to their arrival, making us less vulnerable. The National Hurricane Center is able to forecast a hurricane at least three to four days head of time. If you know that there is a tropical storm heading your way, every minute counts for preparation, or even evacuation. This makes it important for emergency managers to have reliable and efficient ways of notifying residents.
A number of counties offer severe weather alerts via e-mail, text message or pager. Miami Dade County offers a free emergency alert system, which you can sign up for online. It provides automated information on severe weather watches and warnings for a specify ZIP code. There are also a number of paid services, like The Weather Channel’s Notify, which offer similar alerts. The advantage of using a text system is that an SMS needs relatively little cell signal and are small in size. Note that the National Weather Service has an extensive list of e-mail and SMS weather alert services on their website.
We are still in hurricane season and officials are stressing the importance of helping citizens stay safe during an emergency and deal with potential damage. People are encouraged to register to the alert systems available in their area to receive the most up-to-date information. We need to continue looking for new and improved ways of sharing important information with citizens in natural disasters. You can never be too ready for a hurricane.