(June 14, 2019) June 1 might mark the beginning of ice cream binging, surfing and relaxing on the beaches along the East Coast, but it also is the beginning of a six-month period of dangerous weather featuring storms that NASA deems the most violent on Earth: the Atlantic hurricane season.
“Hurricane season is from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year,” said Ocean City Director of Emergency Services Joseph Theobald. “Peak season is the middle of September and on.”
Last year, the East Coast was battered by an above average number of storms with 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, and two major hurricanes: Florence, a category four, and Michael, a category five.
Ocean City was not hit by any hurricanes last year, but Florence was powerful enough to cause a series of disturbances that left the resort with floods, high winds and rough seas.
A hurricane’s category is based on its sustained wind speed. In the United States, scientists determine the category using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which uses a one to five rating system.
Categories one and two have wind speeds ranging from 74 to 95 mph. At these levels, houses may sustain some roof damage, large branches will snap and power outages are likely to occur.
Once scientists declare a hurricane to be category three, it is officially considered a major hurricane with wind speeds of 111 to 129 mph. Hurricanes at categories four and five have wind speeds above 130 mph.
The damage a major hurricane causes is catastrophic: houses are destroyed, trees are ripped from the roots and power is lost for weeks or months, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“We have hurricane plans in place … and if there is going to be a threat, we monitor continuously throughout the whole season,” Theobald said. “We take it very seriously and we want the public to take it serious too.”
Theobald stressed the importance of heeding local government’s advisories and declarations concerning hurricanes.
“Work with our government officials and listen to what we say,” he said. “Our focus is on life safety, and we want to keep everyone safe. Work with us and partner with us, and we can get through just about anything.”
Theobald recommended that people have three days worth of water and non-perishable food in case they need to sustain themselves during dangerous weather. In addition, he suggested having a weather radio and cash because of possible power outages.
Although the city will do its best to prepare for hurricane season, it is still up to individuals to prepare themselves for dangerous weather.
“People don’t plan as they should,” Theobald said. “You know we are humans, and our nature is to let things go until the last minute. But you want to have a plan in place … so if something comes about, you’re not scrambling at the last minute to do what you need to do.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit oceancitymd.gov and check out the Emergency Management section.