Better to be prepared for hurricane season

The odds are, Kauai will not be hit by a hurricane this season. But you should plan and prepare like one will.

The forecast is for four to seven tropical cyclones in the central Pacific region, which includes Hawaii. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s outlook calls for an equal 40 percent chance of near- or above-normal season with a 20 percent chance of below-normal season.

An average season has four to five tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

It’s natural to relax and assume our island won’t see any major storms and there’s no reason to worry. And you could be right. Perhaps it will be, as it was last year and the two years prior, relatively calm on Kauai when it comes to tropical cyclones. For the most part, the past three seasons have delivered some heavy rains and strong winds and not much more.

But we can all agree it’s better to prepare for the worst. And the sooner we do this, the better.

“It is important for the public to plan and prepare for hurricanes at the start of the hurricane season and not just wait until a storm threatens the state,” said Kauai Emergency Management Administrator Elton Ushio.

Every family should have their own disaster preparedness plan and take the time to practice it.

What should a disaster kit include?

At least a five- to seven-day supply of non-perishable food; four quarts of bottled water per person per day; a battery powered radio; flashlight; an extra supply of prescription medicines and other items specific to individual and family needs.

It’s also a good idea to remove any debris from around your home and even be ready to board up windows so they can withstand hurricane force winds.

You should also be sure to pay attention to alerts of coming cyclones. Generally, we’ll have warnings.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center continuously monitors weather conditions, employing a network of satellites, land- and ocean-based sensors and aircraft reconnaissance missions operated by NOAA and its partners. Complex computer modeling and human expertise serve as the basis for the hurricane center’s track and intensity forecasts that extend out five days.

The CPHC issues a Hurricane or Tropical Storm Watch when a hurricane or tropical storm-force winds are possible within 48 hours.

A Hurricane or Tropical Storm Warning is issued when a hurricane or tropical storm-force winds are expected to strike within 36 hours.

When either a watch or a warning is issued, residents and visitors should listen to their local radio or TV stations and monitor local web/internet media and websites for official weather information and civil defense instructions.

Information on planning and preparation regarding hurricane season is available on the county website, www.kauai.gov., or the Central Pacific Hurricane Center website, http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/cphc/.

To sign up for the county’s free emergency notification service, Connect CTY, go to the county website, www.kauai.gov.

Connect CTY is designed to quickly inform residents and businesses about civil defense emergencies including: tsunamis; hurricanes; earthquakes; flash floods; and any other situation that could impact the safety, property, or welfare of residents and visitors.

Those without Internet access can have their phone number and other pertinent information added to the county database by calling the Kaua’i Civil Defense Agency at 241-1800.

“Preparation is the key. We all need to engage in planning and preparing right now for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center.

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