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Take precautions as hurricane season approaches

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Although Columbus AFB is located 196 nautical miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, it is in an area commonly affected by tropical systems. This season began early with the first tropical storm named on May 9. This year is again forecasted to be another above normal year for hurricanes. Doctors Bill Gray and Philip Klotzbach from Colorado State University have predicted 17 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes for the 2007 season. September is the most favorable month for tropical systems affecting Columbus AFB as depicted by monthly historical record below.
However, tropical systems can affect CAFB any month during hurricane season.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., has responsibilities for monitoring and forecasting tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific basin. Links to the Hurricane Center forecasts and CAFB hurricane climatological data are accessible through the Columbus web weather page. Additionally, it provides a five day forecast with a tropical update.
The names for the 2007 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Season are: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dean, Erin, Felix, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Noel, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy.
HURCON conditions advise the base populace on hurricanes that are approaching or forecasted to affect CAFB.
HURCON 4: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible at Columbus AFB within 72 hours.
HURCON 3: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible at Columbus AFB within 48 hours.
HURCON 2: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible at Columbus AFB within 24 hours.
HURCON 1: Destructive winds of 50 knots or greater are possible at Columbus AFB within 12 hours.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a one to five rating based on the hurricane's present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.
A Category One Hurricane means there are winds 74 to 95 miles per hour. Storm surge generally four to five feet above normal. Although, there is to be no real damage to building structures, the damage will primarily be to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees. There will be some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.
A Category Two Hurricane means there are winds 96 to 110 m.p.h. and storm surge generally six to eight feet above normal. There will be some roofing material, door and window damage of buildings. There will also be considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Mobile homes, poorly constructed signs and piers can expect considerable damage. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood two to four hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.
A Category Three Hurricane means there will be winds 111 to 130 m.p.h. and storm surge generally nine to 12 feet above normal. There will be some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down can be expected. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs can be destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water three to five hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than five feet above mean sea level may be flooded inland eight miles or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required.
A Category Four Hurricane has winds 131 to 155 m.p.h. and storm surges generally 13 to 18 feet above normal. There tends to be more extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water three to five hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 feet above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as six miles.
A Category Five Hurricane has winds greater than 155 m.p.h. and storm surges generally greater than 18 feet above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water three to five hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 feet above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within five to 10 miles of the shoreline may be required.
For more information, call the Weather Flight at 434-2971.