By Rachel Hogan
Once your critical storm preparations are done it is helpful to tell your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers what you have done to prepare so they can get ready too. It’s also a good time to start tracking the storm and spreading word of its potential impacts to others. Below are some important tools you can use to understand the storm’s wind and rainfall potential, and to make sure your preparations are sufficient:
1. Local forecast offices of the National Weather Service also post emergency management briefings that provide information about the storm’s strength, timeline and its potential impacts. Here is the link for the most current briefing from the forecast office in Mt. Holly, NJ/Philadelphia, which forecasts for the Lehigh Valley: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/phi/
2. Precipitation potential: The National Weather Service regularly updates the potential for rainfall across the country for the coming five days. This graphic is updated every twelve hours, so check regularly.
3. River crests: If you are interested in understanding how high rivers might rise during flooding events, you can view the hydrograph that is produced by the National Weather Service. The hydrograph shows the current water height at specific points along the river where there are river gauges that measure water level. The hydrograph also forecasts out the next 72 hours in many places, showing you how high the river might reach. As of early Friday morning, the hydrograph for Easton, PA, shows no flooding in the forecast, because the storm impacts are more than 72 hours away. Check back regularly in the next few days for updates as the waters rise. To find the hydrographs, search for the “Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service” website and click on the “River Forecasts” tab. Once there, hover your mouse over your region, and you can zoom in to your area and find the river gage nearest you. Here’s the hydrograph for Easton: http://water.weather.gov/
4. Hurricane Track information: The National Hurricane Center regularly updates a series of images that explain the track and force of active hurricanes. Check here for an image of the track of the storm as well as other important information, including any active warnings.
5. Email updates from the National Weather Service: You can sign up for a variety of email updates about different weather topics. You can select to receive advisories from the National Hurricane Center about Atlantic or Pacific hurricanes, among other topics. The hurricane updates provide detailed information about the current location and strength of the hurricane, along with warnings for areas where it is expected to arrive. To sign up, start here: https://public.govdelivery.
6. NOAA Weather Radio: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has its own All-Hazards Radio broadcasts, which can be heard on “NOAA Weather Radios,” available for purchase at many retail outlets and department stores, as well as sporting goods stores and online retailers. Regular radios will not receive the NOAA All Hazards broadcasts, which air on one of seven VHF frequencies from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. There are many different kinds of NOAA Weather Radio models available, including battery operated, hand-crank powered versions and versions that can also charge cell phones. Find yourself a high-quality NOAA Weather Radio that does not require electricity, so you can stay up to date on alerts and warnings during severe events, when power is out.
For additional hurricane information, you can check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency information about how to take action before, during and after a hurricane: http://www.ready.gov/
How are you tracking the storm? Please share any useful tools you use below.
Rachel Hogan Carr is the director of the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, PA, a non-profit organization that has been working for the past several years to help local communities address flood risk. You can follow them on Facebook or visit www.nurturenaturecenter.org.