October for many brings thoughts of postseason baseball and pumpkin spice lattes. For us, it doesn’t change a whole lot, just the page of the calendar and maybe our coffee preferences, as we continue to monitor the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Hurricane season doesn’t actually end until November—after the revelry of Thanksgiving has finished and some places in northern parts of the country have already seen their first snowfalls.
This first weekend of October has the potential to bring a tropical storm or hurricane—depending on the amount of strength it gains over the next few days—to areas of the Gulf Coast.
The difference between this new storm, Nate, and the others we’ve responded to recently (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) is the amount of lead-time before landfall. Because of where the storm formed, its timeline for a potential impact in the United States is accelerated; it’s keeping us on our toes.
As such, we’ve been keeping in close contact with our colleagues at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Since the storm started as just an invest off the northern coast of South America, they’ve been monitoring and issuing updates on the storm. (There’s more about how hurricanes form in a previous blog post.) Those updates are vitally important and extraordinarily helpful to us as we continue to plan our response.
One of the tricky things about hurricanes is the fact that their tracks can change without much notice. Storms that are one day predicted to hit one area can shift to a different one nearly in the blink of an eye. It’s why you’ve probably heard of, or even seen, the “spaghetti models”—all of the potential forecasts tracks where a storm may land. There is no perfect hurricane forecast (though they do get close) which is why the National Hurricane Center uses what’s called the “cone of uncertainty” in order to best demonstrate any possibly impacted areas.
To that end, we’ve been monitoring the storm from four different places: two regional offices (one in Texas and the other in Atlanta), our national headquarters here in Washington, DC, and with our team embedded in the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. This way, all of the states along the Gulf Coast are covered if the storm shifts in any direction. Between an update issued last night and this morning, the storm shifted westward and impacts were forecast further into Louisiana instead of further into the Florida panhandle.
Those in potentially-impacted areas have several options for what to do right now in order to be prepared for the weekend. The biggest is making sure that you know your evacuation routes and zone. If asked to evacuate, knowing where to go and how to get there will be helpful. If planning to shelter in place, make sure to have your emergency kit stocked full of all the supplies you may need in case of a power outage. Heed the advice and warning of local officials. They will have the most up-to-date safety information and recommendations, as we’ve been in close contact with our colleagues in each of the states.
We will continue to be monitoring the storm as it approaches. For the latest updates, check the National Hurricane Center and for more information on how to prepare yourself and your family, check out Ready.gov.