The 2006 hurricane season is just a few weeks away with June 1 as the start.
According to Klotzbach and Gray there will be a total of 17 named storms this season with 9 attaining hurricane strength. The Gulf Coast will have a 74% of a tropical storm making landfall there, Florida and the East Coast the chance is 64%. For hurricanes making landfall in the US; for the Gulf Coast the overall chance is 79% and for Florida and the East Coast 89%. This report also addresses that popular media myth, is global warming having an affect? The answer is no, the multi-decadal oscillation in the Altantic thermocline circulation is the cause for the increase in storms.
So there is plenty of reason for the 120 million plus US citizens inhabiting the coastline to get ready for this season. Are people ready? That is always a good question. Here is a personal checklist of sorts. Think of this now instead of when a storm is only 20 hours from landfall, if you wait until then you will forget important things.
Make sure your escape vehicle is fully functional, get it to the mechanic now. Also decide if you will be towing your boat inland or will you just tie it down more and hope the surge does not wreck it. There is nothing that will stop Hwy-49 out of Gulfport faster than a truck towing a boat and something on the vehicle or the trailer breaks, two lanes will probably be blocked for at least an hour or more before it is cleared.
This brings up point two, know alternate routes and destinations. If you have time, scout the routes now. MapQuest and GPS may lead you wrong since summer in the South means road construction. Also where are you evacuating to? Is it friends or family? That is good. If a hotel, better reserve early the one you want or you will be staying in a hotel in the hinterlands. Or you will be staying in a shelter, know where the shelters are before you leave if you can. Or look for signs on the highway pointing to shelters.
Point three, always be aware of how much fuel is in vehicle. A traffic jam with many vehicles stalled and air conditioner running will eat up gasoline faster than can be believed. Do not be forced to push your vehicle to the side of the road because you ran it out of gas. Your chances of sheltering in area of impact just jumped to about 80% unless someone is kind and helps you.
Point four is money. Bring some cash, but do not bring wads. You will just be a robbery victim if you do. Plus there will be others thinking the same thing and there might be a run on the banks. Hence another bottleneck as people scramble for cash. Bring your credit cards and checkbooks with you to where ever you evacuate.
Five is paperwork. When you leave your house or apartment, bring the documents. Birth certificates, property titles, vehicle registrations, house mortgage number, home owner's insurance, car insurance, health insurance. And if you have them immunization records.
Six, clothing. Bring about a week's worth of casual clothes for each person. Also washcloths, towels, flip-flops, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and deoderant. Bedding material and possibly air mattresses. Sleeping bags are another good idea. Leave the fancy clothes home unless you have room at the end to pack it in.
Seven, food. Water will be king since they expect an average adult to consume a gallon of water a day. Food has to be non-perishable; which means either hiking type food, MREs, or canned food. I know experts say bring enough food and water for three days, be cautious and pack one or two days more in if it fits.
Eight, prescriptions. This should fall under paperwork, but bring all your medical records in case the vaulted computer networks or hospitals loose them. Also have your presciptions with you in case, while evacuated, you need a refill. You should bring with you at least a 30 day supply of any prescription medecine.
Nine, vehicle emergency kit. Does your escape vehicle have a wrench and a jack in case of a flat. Is your spare tire full sized and functional? Or do you have a compact spare? Is it in good shape? Pack some duct tape and radiator repair tape. Also pack some water for the radiator in case you have to top it off, same goes for oil have some extra oil of the same weight/type to top off in case it gets low and you don't have time to get it properly fixed. Do you have hazard markers, red/orange triangles you place facing oncoming traffic to warn them of the break-down. Do you have a cellular phone or satellite phone to call for help with? May want to get one.
How about flashlights and a portable radio? Batteries? Coleman lanterns. May want to investigate the purchase of these items.
Ten, do you have pets? Are you going to leave them to fend for themselves? If not, do you have any way to transport them? Red Cross shelter I was at after Rita had a no pet rule, which meant one family from Morgan City took turns camping out in their vehicles because they had several dogs while the other members slept in the shelter. That is something else to think about. Larger animals like horses, you better have a friend inland who is willing to take your horses.
Finally, point eleven. Everything else. After squeezing family, pets, and vital stuff into escape vehicle; now you can pack other items. Like family picture albums, heirloom jewelry[which should be in a bank safe deposit box], or other sentimental items.
Final piece of advice? Check with your Civil Defense person for their recommendations. Check FEMA and Homeland Security web-pages for suggestions. Do your homework now, not when the storm is ashore. And get out early.