NEWS | June 3, 2014

Prepare now for stormy weather

By Staff Sgt. Holly Whatley 628th Civil Engineer Squadron

June 1 kicked off what could be a very intense and unpredictable six-month-long hurricane season.

Members of Joint Base Charleston should educate themselves on what items they will need and what resources are available to prepare themselves, their family members and their pets before a storm strikes.

Putting together an emergency supply kit as well as a "go bag" in the event of an evacuation is a must. All household members should know where the kits are located and what the family evacuation plan is. Some items to include are:

· Prescription medication, required medical supplies, first-aid kit
· Bottled water (one gallon per person for three days), non-perishable food items
· Battery-operated radio
· Maps of evacuation routes
· Copies of important documents
· Gas for vehicles and cash

Evacuations are possible in our area. It is important to watch the news and to be in touch with your chain of command about what to do. Active-duty members who live on the installation will evacuate when the Joint Base commander gives the order, and individuals who live off the installation will evacuate when civil authorities give the order and when that order is followed with the JB commander's order.
Members will be paid to evacuate only if the JB commander has given the order and only in accordance with that order. The JB commander's evacuation order will include the number of miles members are authorized to travel and be paid for.

It's important to know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning:
A Hurricane Watch means a developing hurricane poses a possible threat within 48 hours.

A Hurricane Warning is issued when winds of 74 mph or higher associated with a hurricane and are expected in a specified coastal area within 36 hours. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

The U.S. operates off a 5-tier system known as the Saffir-Simpson Scale for categorizing the severity of a storm and its potential storm surge.

CAT 1: 74 to 95 mph winds; some damage to vegetation and signs
CAT 2: 96 to 110 mph winds: moderate; damage to mobile homes, roofs, some flooding
CAT 3: 111 to 130 mph winds: extensive; damage to small buildings, blockage on low-lying roads
CAT 4: 131 to 155 mph winds: extreme; destruction to roofs and mobile homes, downed trees
CAT 5: Over 155 mph winds: catastrophic; destruction to most buildings and vegetation and major roads blocked due to flooding/damage

In addition to the hurricane scale, JB Charleston uses the following notification system called HURCONs or Hurricane Conditions to describe how long we have until damaging winds will arrive.

HURCON 5: General Hurricane Season, June 1 - Nov. 30
HURCON 4: 58 mph within 96 hours
HURCON 3: 58 mph within 72 hours
HURCON 2: 58 mph within 48 hours
HURCON 1: 58 mph within 24 hours

1E: 58 mph winds occurring and other dangerous condition associated w ith a storm are present. All outside activity strictly prohibited.

1R: Life threatening storm hazards have passed but damage may persist. Only emergency responders and damage assessment personnel are released to move about.

All Clear - Destructive winds have ceased. Begin recovery operations and listen to the radio or television for information regarding resumption of work schedule and recall personnel as approved by the wing commander

How do you keep CATEGORY and HURCON separate? Remember, "Count up in intensity/strength, count down to landfall."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a Web site dedicated to providing disaster information to the public. Visit for a full list of emergency supplies and how to make a disaster plan.
For other hurricane information visit