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Hurricane Hunters visit New England for Hurricane Preparedness Week

QUONSET, R.I. -- As part of a multi-state tour, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA) is looking to help educate the public on staying safe if and when a hurricane strikes.

Their first stop this week was in Rhode Island, and accompanying them was the NOAA airplane and the USAF Hurricane Hunters plane. Both play key roles in helping better understand the storms that head for the United States, ultimately saving lives.

When it comes to hurricane forecasting, NOAA has many tools. Radar, satellites and computer models all play a role in forecasting hurricanes, but they each have their own limitations. In order to overcome these limitations, NOAA operates two Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft in order to conduct low-altitude data collection to fill gaps in data not available from ground based radar or satellite imagery.

Fox61 Meteorologist Dan Amarante was at the event Monday, and spoke to the flight crew, as well as National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham. Graham emphasized the long-lasting impacts of tropical systems as one reason to be prepared. He told us, "in many cases, the indirect fatalities after the storm are exceeding the direct fatalities during the storm."

New England is no stranger to hurricanes and tropical storms, so what should you do to prepare?

  • Put Together an Emergency Kit: Put together a basic emergency. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.
  • Write or review your Family Emergency Plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster. Start at the Ready.Gov emergency plan webpage.
  • Review Your Insurance Policies: Review your insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property.
  • Understand NWS forecast products, especially the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.
  • Preparation tips for your home from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes

When a hurricane threatens your community, be prepared to evacuate if you live in a storm surge risk area. Allow enough time to pack and inform friends and family if you need to leave your home.

  • Secure your home: Cover all of your home's windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8 inch exterior grade or marine plywood, built to fit, and ready to install. Buy supplies before the hurricane season rather than waiting for the pre-storm rush.
  • Stayed tuned in: Check the websites of your local National Weather Service office and local government/emergency management office. Find out what type of emergencies could occur and how you should respond. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or other radio or TV stations for the latest storm news.
  • Follow instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if ordered!
  • If NOT ordered to evacuate:
    • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level during the storm. Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can.
    • Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
    • If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm, but at the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane force winds coming from the opposite direction.

Learn more about hurricanes, and how to prepare and stay safe.

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