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Getting Prepared for Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene is forecast to hit Category 3 or 4 when it makes landfall in North Carolina on Saturday evening. Check this post for updates.

UPDATE 8/26: Stats on Irene as of 2:00 p.m. EDT:

Sustained winds: 10 mph
Wind Gusts: 125 mph
Latitude: 31.2N
Longitude 77.5W
Pressure: 951.00mb
Movement: North at 14mph
Located: 300 mi SSW of Cape Hatteras, NC

Stats on Irene as of 10:00 a.m. EDT:

Sustained winds: 105 mph
Wind Gusts: 125 mph
Latitude: 30.7N
Longitude 77.3W
Pressure: 946.00mb
Movement: North at 14mph
Located: 212 mi SE of Charleston, SC

ComEd in Chicago is already sending crews to Philadelphia in advance of the storm to help sister utility PECO with expected outages.

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The projected path for Hurricane Irene sets it on course to hit the East Coast from North Carolina to New England this weekend, marking the strongest storm to hit the Northeast in two decades. This morning, the National Hurricane Center said that Irene is “forecast to become a larger than average hurricane,” and is now a Category 3 storm. (UPDATE: NOAA map of Irene is here.)

High winds are expected to impact Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Boston, and much of New England. Winds could be strong enough to cause structural damage in areas closest to the storm, but downed trees and power outages could be widespread and should be expected. Rhode Island as well as the Eastern halves of Long Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are at the greatest risk of tornado threats.

Philadelphia and New York City can expect to break rainfall records for the month, and heavy rain should be expected from Washington DC through New England.

What You Should Do

Before the storm:

  • Have several flashlights and extra batteries available. Candles can pose a fire danger – flashlights are much safer! Also, have a battery-powered radio available to stay updated on news.
  • Pack a hurricane emergency kit including at least a 3-day water supply for each person (1 gal per person per day), non-perishable food, and a first aid kit. Include baby or pet supplies if applicable.
  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind including lawn furniture, bicycles, etc.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (be sure to check your manual) and keep them closed as much as possible so food can last longer.
  • Fill up your gas tank and take out some cash. Electrically powered gas pumps and ATMs are unlikely to work in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
  • Be sure to locate copies of important documents, medication lists, proof of address, deeds, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies.
  • Turn off and unplug sensitive electronics to prevent possible damage: television and stereo equipment, game consoles, and computer equipment.
  • Stay tuned on the radio and TV to find out if there are any evacuation orders for your area. Plan routes to shelters, and turn off utilities if instructed by authorities. Turn off or remove propane tanks.
  • Register special medical needs family members with local authorities in case of evacuation or extended electrical outage.

During the storm:

  • Continue listening to the radio or TV for information.
  • Fill the bathtub or other large containers with water for sanitary purposes such as bathing or flushing toilets. Localized water pumps may lose power.
  • Stay indoors and away from windows and doors. Close interior doors, brace external doors in case of extreme winds.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Do not go outside if the storm seems to have passed – it could be the eye of the storm!
  • Take refuge in a small interior room or closet on the lowest level of your home.

After the storm:

  • Stay away from downed wires, damaged or exposed electrical equipment, or trees or tree limbs in contact with wires or electrical equipment. Live wires do not necessarily look like they may be energized, so please stay away from such wires and report to your utility.
  • Be careful when cleaning up your property to keep pool nets, tree trimmers, ladders and other equipment far from power lines.
  • Generators should never be wired into your home’s circuitry. Any equipment needed to run on a generator (refrigerator, pumps, fans) should be plugged into the generator directly. Also, be sure to operate the generator in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, and in a well-ventilated area!
  • Keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible. Move meats, dairy, etc into the freezer to stay colder longer. A partially full freezer can keep food frozen up to 24 hours, and about 48 hours if completely full.
  • Call your utility to report an electric outage. See our list here on how to do so.

Sources

Hurricane Irene: Major Northeast Threats” – Weather.com, August 25, 2011.

CL&P Says It’s Preparing for the Worst and Hoping For The Best” – Ridgefield Press, August 25, 2011.

Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist” – Red Cross.

Hurricane Irene New York: Mayor Bloomberg Warns of Possible Evacuations” – International Business Times, August 25, 2011.

PSE&G Prepares for Hurricane Irene” – Marketwatch, August 25, 2011.

Agencies Tell Residents to Prepare for the Threat of Hurricane Irene” – Carroll County Times, August 24, 2011.

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