Hurricane Earl is bearing down for a near miss on the Outer banks of North Carolina and the weatherarazzi at The Weather Channel and elsewhere are going nuts. This is the first time in a while since we've had a major hurricane near the US Coast. Hopefully, it'll just keep that distinction and weaken before it slams into New England, or more likely, Newfoundland.
There are a million sources of information on the Internet, and this will be the first big storm since tens of millions of people have joined social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, so there is a real danger of information overload on this event, and for the looming entry of Tropical Storm Gaston into the Caribbean sometime in the middle of next week, the feeding frenzy will only get worse. Gaston may even make it into the Gulf of Mexico...but that's a little too far out to be anything other than speculation at this point.
Anyway, back to Earl. Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings and Hurricane Watches and Warnings have been issued from North Carolina to Maine and storm chasers have chosen initial positions from which to observe the storm as it passes. My favorite storm chaser, Mark Suddoth, is in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and may decide to race to Cape Cod if it looks like Earl could make landfall there. You can follow his activities at Hurricane Track. He has a live video player embedded there.
If you live in an area where public safety officials have decided that an evacuation is necessary, do it. You should already have an emergency preparedness plan in place for your family (have I mentioned that September is National Preparedness Month?).
The North Carolina Emergency Management Division has quite possibly the worst public safety website of any state in the nation. There is no easy access to weather forecasts or quickly updated information due to poor navigational features. The news and announcements section was last updated in September 2006. Political patronage and corruption is what I blame for this serious shortfall.
**7.45am** An employee at the North Carolina Emergency Management Division just sent me a link to use for the general public regarding more up to date information. Click here to see it.
Their recently produced video for National Preparedness month is below is indicative of the problems. It is geared toward viewing by local officials and focuses on the bureaucratic side of disaster and features Beverly Perdue passing out platitudes regarding preparedness:
Here are some better resources for updates on Earl, Fiona and Gaston for my fellow North Carolinians (or anyone else, for that matter):
National Hurricane Center
Here is a short list of weather pages that follow tropical weather and might be of interest to you:
Golden Triangle Weather Page (This is my goto guy for the Gulf Coast)
Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker
Hurricane Alley (don't let the initial splash page animation out you off. There is meat in this site if you dig.)
Atlantic Tropical Weather Center
Hurricane Frequencies (For those with shortwave radios)
Remember to plan ahead, run drills with your family and know alternate evacuation routes for your area in case everyone decides to leave at the same time.
Here are some resources for you to consider to help you become prepared for the next storm, the next earthquake, blizzard, or whatever may come our way:
The Survival Podcast