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Director of Emergency Management and Campus Safety
Eckerd College is located at 27° 42.81' N 82° 40.97' W (Latitude 27.71888 Longitude -82.68831)
Tropical Weather Update
September 15, 2012
MONITORING THE ATLANTIC, CARIBBEAN AND GULF OF MEXICO
Thank you for visiting this site, which is maintained by the Eckerd College Emergency Management Group. Throughout the tropical storm season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30, Eckerd College maintains this tropical weather site as a service to the members of our community. We invite students, faculty, staff, trustees, and their families to use this site as a resource for planning and information. Information about storm preparations, College closure and re-opening, cancellations and rescheduling, evacuations, and other storm-related matters are posted on this site.
COLLEGE OPERATIONS ARE NORMAL
All College operations are normal at this time.
MONITORING FORECASTS FOR THE ATLANTIC, CARIBBEAN AND GULF OF MEXICO
The Emergency Management Group is continuing to monitor National Hurricane Center (NHC) and local weather forecasts. Currently, we are monitoring Hurricane Nadine far across the Atlantic.Forecasters project no impacts on our area from that storm system. We also have our eye on a tropical wave approaching the Caribbean. We encourage all members of the Eckerd College community to continue to monitor NHC and local weather forecasts as the 2012 hurricane season continues.
To keep up to date on important weather forecasts, please visit our link to the National Hurricane Center at the NOAA weather site. A favorite weather forecasting site for many Floridians is Weather Underground, www.wunderground.com.
You may follow local forecasts at the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service issues significant weather watches and warnings for our area and posts hazardous weather outlooks, high surf advisories, flood advisories, watches and warnings on its web site.
READINESS IN THE 2012 SEASON
The Emergency Management Group encourages all members of the Eckerd College community to take this time to review personal plans at home. Being prepared at home contributes to the resilience of our college and our community. Please continue reading this web site for helpful guidance.
PLEASE MAKE A NOTE OF THIS TELEPHONE NUMBER AND WEB SITES
When the College is closing for a storm and announcing its process for reopening after the storm, an email will be sent to the members of the community. When a severe storm threatens Eckerd College AND while the College is closed, the College Web site and voicemail system will post updates. Please keep the following information handy. The telephone number and the Web sites will be maintained at remote locations when we have evacuated campus so that voicemail and Web messages can be updated under severe weather conditions and through power outages.
PLEASE REVIEW CHANGES THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE 2010 HURRICANE SEASON
We entered the 2010 hurricane season with some noteworthy changes and it is important to review them here:
1. Evacuation levels changed for many of our homes and businesses. To confirm your evacuation level, visit Know Your Zone or call (727) 453-3150. If you need to evacuate, the Pinellas County web site will also show a listing of the nearest hurricane shelters, special needs shelters, and accommodations out of your evacuation zone.
2. Hurricane forecasts will contain two important pieces of information for individuals living along our coastlines: (1) wind speed (maximum sustained winds) according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, and (2) projected storm surge.
3. Tropical storm watches and hurricane watches will be issued when tropical storm conditions and hurricane conditions are possible along the coast within 48 hours. Tropical storm warnings and hurricane warnings will be issued when those conditions are expected within 36 hours. Forecasters have extended the watch and warning periods by 12 hours because they have increased confidence in their ability to project the path of the eye of the storm, especially as it is represented by the 72-hour cone.
A GOOD TIME TO REVIEW AND UPDATE YOUR PLANS
Now is a good time for members of the Eckerd College community to review their hurricane plans with their families. To review the elements of good plans, please visit the links to guidance provided for the 2012 hurricane season below.
GUIDANCE FOR STUDENTS AND FAMILIES
The Hurricane Guide for Students can be downloaded from the link in this this web site; it contains useful guidance for all members of the Eckerd College community.
Residence life and student life staff are always available to assist families with their plans. Contact information is provided below.
Students and their families should use this time now to explore ideas about where students will go if an evacuation order is issued. Pinellas County Emergency Management advises residents to consider public shelters as a last resort; residents are encouraged to make their own plans for safe lodging at reinforced homes of friends and relatives or newer hotels in county or to have laid in place plans to evacuate the county in a timely way.
Students may want to include in their plans locations within driving distance of Pinellas County as well as plane travel to their homes that are further away. To help families budget their students' travels, we encourage families to consider purchasing advance refundable plane tickets that may be used during hurricane season, if needed, and then for travel during holidays otherwise. Students also may wish to budget to share car expenses when driving to places out of Pinellas County and hotel expenses for lodging in and out of Pinellas County.
Students who live off campus should know their evacuation zone. They should develop plans in the event Pinellas County orders an evacuation of their area. We encourage students to have plans to find lodging in structures reinforced for hurricane conditions within the County, if the students choose to stay in Pinellas County, and in locations outside Pinellas County.
Student Affairs will provide assistance to students and families who would like to discuss evacuation options. Students who need assistance should call Student Affairs at 727.864.8421 or send an email to email@example.com
GUIDANCE FOR FACULTY, STAFF AND OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS
Now also is a good time for our faculty, staff and off-campus students to ready their homes for the 2012 hurricane season. Please complete a home inventory with photographs or videotapes, collect together in a safe place important documents, inventory and replenish hurricane supplies, and update your plans for evacuation routes and lodging in and out of the county. Business continuity at the College depends on our faculty, staff and students taking care of themselves and their families at home first.
HELPFUL GUIDES TO PREPARE FOR THE HURRICANE SEASON
The St. Petersburg Times 2012 hurricane guide provides helpful guidance for residents who plan to stay in Pinellas County and for those who will evacuate their homes. Pinellas County Emergency Management's hurricane guide, Surviving the Storm, is also helpful especially for its listing of evacuation shelters and non-evacuation zone hotels and motels.
LINKS TO THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER (NHC) WEB SITE
This is also a good time to become familiar with the features of the National Hurricane Center web site. Please visit our link to the National Hurricane Center at the NOAA weather site.
HOW TO READ THE NHC WEB SITE
At the NHC site, the EMG finds it helpful to read postings after 5:00 am/pm and 11:00 am/pm, when NHC forecasters provide full discussions and advisories based on their most recent data and their latest model runs; and after 8:00 am/pm and 2:00 am/pm when NHC forecasters provide the latest information regarding the storm's location. We focus on these aspects of the NHC web site:
1. Forecast Discussion, which lets one know when hurricane hunters collect data, the data NHC meteorologists are analyzing, what the models are forecasting, and what the NHC meteorologists are projecting.
2. Public Advisory, which provides helpful information about the location of the storm system, direction the storm system is moving, the speed the storm is moving, current maximum sustained wind speeds and gusts, the central pressure of the storm (as the central pressure decreases the storm strengthens), and size of the storm system (how far out from the center of the system tropical storm force and hurricane force winds extend), the effect of the storm on tides, and estimated rainfall.
3. Maps/Charts, which illustrate NHC projections 72-hours and 120-hours out from the storm system's current position regarding tracks of the center/eye of the storm (any area inside the cone may be crossed by the center/eye of the storm, which means everyone located in an area inside the cone should be on alert), the consensus track of the center/eye of the storm (the black line), and 120-hour cones of wind speed probabilities.
4. National Weather Service (NWS) Local Statements, which is a new feature from the 2009 hurricane season. These local statements are focused forecasts for specific geographic regions.
FOR WEATHER BUFFS: WUNDERGROUND.COM
A favorite weather forecasting site for many Floridians is Weather Underground, www.wunderground.com. Meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters writes the tropical storm/hurricane blog, which is educational for those who would like to better understand the science associated with a tropical storm or hurricane forecasting.
Following the active 2004-05 hurricane season, in a series of educational sessions, the Emergency Management Group invited meteorologists from the National Weather Service-Ruskin (Tampa Bay); the Director of the National Hurricane Center; and Dr. Masters, a meteorologist who has experience as a hurricane hunter. They gave excellent seminars to the Emergency Management Group; faculty, staff and student leadership; and the broader community. We are grateful to the NWS, NHC and Weather Underground for what we learned in all our sessions.
We continue to improve our understanding about tropical storm and hurricane forecasts through the NHC and NWS forecasts and through blogs Dr. Masters offers freely at Weather Underground, too.
FAQs on HURRICANES
As a service to the Eckerd College community, the Emergency Management Group has launched a Tropical Weather Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) site on this Tropical Weather Update site. Look for the link at the top of the right frame of this site. The Emergency Management Group wishes to acknowledge the valuable contributions by former residential students and now alumni David Nagle and Steven Cooper in the development of the FAQ Sheet. We welcome your additional questions as a valuable resource for providing updates to the FAQ. Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE MEANTIME: BE PREPARED
The Emergency Management Group wants to remind you that the time to prepare for a storm is before it arrives. Remember: Tropical storms and severe winter storms in Florida may cause flooding in low lying areas and unpredictable power outages in any neighborhood in Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay area. ATMs do not work and gas stations and stores are closed when power is out; not all area gas stations and grocery stores have back-up generators. We take tropical storms as seriously as hurricanes. While the weather is calm, you may want to do the following:
- obtain emergency cash and keep it secure
- keep your gas tank full
- fill your prescriptions and monitor their supply
- freeze ice if you will need it immediately following a storm
- stock water (at least a gallon a day per person) and non-perishable nutritious and snack food items to last 7-14 days (include a manual can opener, paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils)
- buy batteries, flashlights, portable radios, portable chargers and chargers that can be used in your cars for your cell phone and other electronics, and other storm supplies
- set aside 7-14 days of clothing, lots of socks, and sturdy shoes
- pack a personal hygiene kit and medical emergency kit with at least 7-14 days of supplies; include bug repellent and sunscreen
- collect valuable papers, i.e., home and vehicle insurance documents, passports, medical insurance cards, most recent bank statements, and vehicle titles and secure them in waterproof plastic bags or containers
- prepare a communications plan with someone out of state who can share your information with other family members and friends; after a storm it may be easier to place a long distance call than a local one
- know where you will go should Pinellas County officials order an evacuation
- if you are planning to go to a shelter, set aside bedding, a pillow, mattress or cot, and a lounge chair for your comfort
- make plans for your pets
- students and faculty should always be prepared to take their class syllabi, class rosters, and materials for the semester when the College evacuates; faculty will continue teaching through directed studies and the internet if the College needs to remain closed for an extended period
- administrative staff should always be prepared to perform their functions remotely
Additional advice and more information can be found at our links to Pinellas County Emergency Management and the St. Petersburg Times.
THE ECKERD COLLEGE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT GROUP
This year again the Emergency Management Group, the Response Team, Damage Assessment and Recovery Team, and Business Continuity Team will be working together to support the College's efforts to promote safety first, to protect the College's assets, to facilitate recovery efforts, and to keep administrative functions and the academic program in operation following severe storms. You, too, can help by following your unit plans and checklists and following instructions when they are issued. Each and every one of us will be asked to participate in efforts to promote the safety and welfare of our classmates, colleagues and College and the continuity of College operations, and we are grateful for your assistance and support.
Thank you for visiting this site and staying tuned.
Emergency Management & Campus Safety