FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 with activity spiking from mid-August through mid-October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And although Mother Nature's wrath can devastate lives and property, people can minimize their vulnerability to disaster through preparation, said Willie Worsham, Fort Rucker emergency manager.
According to NOAA, an average of 12 tropical storms, six of which become hurricanes, form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane season that runs through Nov. 30 each year.
For the South, tornadoes traditionally are the cause for alarm, and although not very common, hurricanes can bring devastating weather to the South, including tornadoes, with other dangers like thunderstorms, lightning and flooding, Worsham said.
Hurricanes are warm-core, low pressure systems that develop over tropical or subtropical waters and are powered by heat from the sea, according to the NOAA website. In order for a hurricane to occur, the right conditions must be in place, including warm ocean water, a cooling atmosphere, most air and other factors.
'The key to successfully navigating Mother Nature's nastiness is preparedness,' said the emergency manager. 'Make sure that you have a plan.'
Worsham suggests that people visit the Ready Army website, which gives people all sorts of information on what to expect, how to make a kit and how to prepare for severe weather seasons and even hurricane season.
The first step is to be informed, said Worsham.
Many emergencies, like power outages, disease outbreaks and manmade accidents can happen anywhere. But certain disasters are more likely in some places than others. At Fort Rucker, a blizzard is less likely than a hurricane, so the first information residents should gather is how to prepare for severe weather caused by hurricanes, he said.
Ready Army recommends understanding the local mass warning systems that officials will use to inform people on weather conditions. At Fort Rucker, the agencies that warn of natural hazards are the National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Part of being informed is knowing how to receive information from these agencies, said Worsham, adding that it is a good idea to have a backup way of receiving information in case a primary system goes down.
Being informed also means people knowing where evacuation points are located in the event they cannot get home or their current location becomes unsafe. Ready Army suggests people also know what circumstances would require evacuation and when they should shelter in place.
Accountability is a key part of the Army, and in a disaster this does not change. People should know the way they will contact their unit and receive instructions in the event of a disaster.
The next step is to make a plan.
Ready Army suggests that people keep their plans practical and tuned to likely disasters that they might face. People should take the information they learned in the first step and talk about what their family plan is in each different disaster scenario. People should take into account how they will react if it is a weekend, as opposed to a workday, if their children are at school, or if an evacuation is ordered and sheltering in place is no longer an option.
Building a kit is the next step in Ready Army's list. A kit is nothing more than the supplies that people and their families will need over a three-day period. That is the estimated time it might take to clear roads, restore power or have emergency crews reach people.
After a disaster, emergency responders will address critical needs first and might not be able to get to people right away. A disaster kit will allow people to take care of themselves and their families, freeing up emergency responders to focus on the critically injured and restoring infrastructure.
Ready Army suggests people have multiple kits in different locations, like their car, office and home, because they never know where they will be when disaster strikes.
The final step is to get involved.