The time to batten down the hatches is quickly approaching for folks in North Carolina. The National Weather Service is in the middle of their National Hurricane Preparedness Week, running from May 26–June 1. Their website provides a helpful Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide with meteorological information on hurricanes, the many hazards that occur both during and after the storm, and a checklist of precautions to ensure your safety through the six-month hurricane season. Hurricane season in the Pacific officially began May 15, while hurricane season for the Atlantic runs June 1 through November 30.
The list of storm names for the 2013 hurricane season was also announced by the National Hurricane Center this month. You can see the full list of names of storms for the next five years at the National Hurricane Center website. (They even provide a helpful pronunciation guide.) The lists are recycled every six years, but if a storm one year is especially devastating, that storm name will be retired from the recycled list. So we won’t be seeing another Sandy, or Floyd, or Andrew—in name, at least.
Hurricane season is serious business in North Carolina, partly because our coastline sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean beyond neighboring states. The Outer Banks serve as a protective barrier to the inland, but those islands often take a beating from ocean storms. Hurricane Hazel in 1954 stills stands as a benchmark of destruction for many in North Carolina, but in recent years hurricanes are annually showing their force in our state. This summer, UNC Press is publishing North Carolina’s Hurricane History: Fourth Edition, Updated with a Decade of New Storms from Isabel to Sandy, by hurricane expert Jay Barnes. This newest edition charts the more than fifty great storms that have battered the Tar Heel State from the colonial era through Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, two of the costliest hurricanes on record. Drawing on news reports, National Weather Service records, and eyewitness descriptions, Barnes emphasizes the importance of learning from this extraordinary history as North Carolina prepares for the inevitable disastrous storms to come.
Jay Barnes is director of development for the North Carolina Aquarium Society and lives in Atlantic Beach, N.C. He is also the author of Florida’s Hurricane History and co-author of Faces from the Flood: Hurricane Floyd Remembered. Barnes often appears on media outlets such as The Weather Channel, NBC Nightly News, and The Discovery Channel, and can be followed on his website and blog.