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Just as you would prepare your home for hurricane season if you lived along the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts, truck operators can take extra steps during hurricane season to prepare and stay safe while on the road.
Know the weather on your route
Use a reputable source like the National Hurricane Center (NHC) or National Weather Service (NWS) to look ahead at the expected weather along your route. It’s helpful to know the terms and time frames the NHC will use. Below is NHC’s timeline for tropical weather forecasts, watches and warnings.
- A Tropical Outlook shows the potential for tropical cyclone development over the next five days.
- A Tropical Storm Watch or Hurricane Watch is issued for a location if those conditions are expected within the next 48 hours.
- Tropical Storm Conditions - sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph
- Hurricane Conditions - sustained winds of 74 mph or greater
- A Tropical Storm Warning or Hurricane Warning is issued for a location if those conditions are expected within the next 36 hours.
Impacts to your plan
Now that you have your route planned and know what weather to expect along the way, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), stresses the importance of also knowing how it could impact you and the communities you’ll travel through.
Forecasters at the NHC note several different tropical weather hazards – heavy rain, wind, flooding, inland tropical cyclone induced tornadoes – which can lead to impacts like downed power lines and trees, road closures, and food and fuel shortages before, during and after a storm. Issues like parking shortages, downed cell and telephone communication, and maxed out emergency resources like first responders, hospitals, and pharmacies can also impact you while on the road.
Weathering the storm (and its aftermath)
Emergency management resources at Florida State University emphasize that the aftermath of a hurricane can be long lasting. Hazards like freshwater flooding can take weeks to recede. Roads and even entire communities can take days to reopen. Safety is always top priority, but even the best plans can go awry when dealing the unknowns of hurricane aftermath. After a significant storm, official reports and communication may be sparse from heavily impacted areas. One tip specific to truck operators in an article by Omnitracs is to keep an open line of communication with the dispatching agency and communicate any delays as soon as possible. You are the one seeing the conditions firsthand, and the only one who can accurately give an estimate for safe delivery or pickup.
Hit the road prepared
Here is a suggested list of items from the NWS to keep in your truck during hurricane season:
- Bottled water and nonperishable food
- Rain gear
- Extra cash
- Batteries in all sizes
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Portable phone charger
- Extra prescriptions and daily medication
- Stocked first-aid kit
Hurricane Season 2022 Outlook
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 31, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a busy 2022 season for the Atlantic.
According to forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, this would mark the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season. For the 2022 outlook, NOAA predicts the number of named storms (not landfalls) is “a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).” NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.
For more information on NOAA’s newly enhanced forecasting products for this hurricane season, click here.