NEWS | May 30, 2012

Local news meteorologist guest speaker at Hurricane Preparedness briefing

By Staff Sgt. Nicole Mickle Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Walsh, 315th Airlift Wing chief of Public Affairs and on-air chief meteorologist at Charleston's, S.C. WCSC-TV Live 5 News was the guest speaker at a hurricane preparedness briefing May 23 at the Joint Base Charleston Airman and Family Readiness Center.

The Financial Services Office and the Civil Engineer Emergency Management Flight at Joint Base Charleston hosted the briefing which answered questions about readiness, actions to take in the event of a hurricane, as well as the science of a hurricane.

Walsh has been a meteorologist in Charleston for more than 25 years. Through his experience he explained how important it is to stay alert and prepared during hurricane season.

"Every storm is going to be different so always prepare for the worst," said Walsh. "Keeping yourself informed is key. When we tell you about a possible storm, keep monitoring it."

Ways to monitor a storm include watching the local news, checking weather updates online and the hurricane conditions on base. New smart phone apps make getting important storm updates instantaneous.

"Technology is so advanced now," said Walsh. "Back when hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, we weren't able to do a five day forecast. We are able to do that now. We are also able to show the cone of the storm. If you are anywhere in that cone, you should keep yourself prepared. Hurricanes can change course very quickly."

The cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone over a five day period.

Walsh explained the importance of having a plan if an evacuation order is given as well as a stocked hurricane kit ready to go with you.

Some of the attendees were beach residents. He tailored a portion of the briefing to inform them about additional storm preparations they need to make.

"If you are a beach resident and the local news is forecasting a Category 3 hurricane or higher in the area, you should evacuate when the voluntary evacuation notice is released," said Walsh. "The further you are from the ocean the better."

It has been 23 years since Hurricane Hugo directly hit the Charleston area, but Walsh doesn't believe in a "we are due for one" philosophy.

"When hurricane season begins June 1, our odds are even every year," said Walsh. "Always be prepared for that direct hit storm."

Guest speakers at the briefing included speakers from the Financial Services Office, the Civil Engineer Emergency Management Flight and the American Red Cross.

For more information on hurricane preparedness visit www.charleston.af.mil and click on the natural disaster link on the right or visit www.ready.gov.