Hurricane season has begun, so we sat down with Steven Pfaff, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist of the National Weather Service in Wilmington, to learn about hurricanes and how to prepare. With the abundance of information about the weather on the internet, from the government, schools, and various news outlets, Pfaff stressed the importance of using an ensemble of information and models to accurately predict and prepare for impending weather. Storm impact is influenced by many factors including intensity, wind speed, flood risk, and storm surge. Knowing your unique risk and ensuring you have a plan and materials to protect yourself and your home is essential for safety and recovery. Pfaff suggests viewing multiple hurricane models from credible sources and says “it’s always recommended to plan for one hurricane higher in wind category than what is forecasted to occur.”
An obstacle for adequate preparations is understanding your models and sources, “there’s a lot of misinformation…people need to redirect what they’re seeing and reading to credible sources.” Depending on just one model fails to account for the biases of different models and lacks comparisons to other models and factors. Pfaff suggested weather news briefings and hurricane expert reports as sources of information for the public. The internet and social media can pose as a dangerous news source that can discourage people from evacuating or preparing, if you see a bias or fake weather report, “just because you can share it doesn’t mean you should.”
The long-term recovery from Hurricane Florence is a task the Wilmington community continues to tackle. Make plans for future storms by knowing your risk, having an evacuation plan, and utilizing credible weather sources. To protect ourselves and our community, Pfaff concluded that “we need communities that are ready, responsive, and resilient.”
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