Carolina Country sat down with the Weather Team from Spectrum News North Carolina to get an inside look at storm forecasting and preparedness. Here are three key takeaways from their point of view:
1 Focus on storm impact.
“When we’re talking about hurricanes, we use the Saffir-Simpson Scale (Category 1–5). That tells a lot about the wind damage that a storm can bring, but it doesn’t say anything about the flood dangers,” says meteorologist Lee Ringer. “A Category 1 can cause more damage than a Category 3 when it comes to rain. There are so many different elements of a storm.”
The position and timing of a storm can also contribute to how it impacts your neighborhood or community.
2 Every storm is different.
“Not every storm is the same; every storm brings a different danger,” Lee says. According to the Spectrum team, while forecasting has improved, uncertainty still exists.
“The models we use are statistical models — they’re looking back 20 years and grabbing data to try and come up with their forecast,” Chief Meteorologist Gary Stephenson explains. His advice: “To the people who have lived through tropical events in our area, learn from that experience. For people who are new to the area, do some research. Know how we’re impacted. North Carolina — from one end of the state to the other — can be impacted by tropical systems, and [they] affect every region differently.”
3 Prepare for the worst.
“If you’re prepared for the worst, then nothing’s going to catch you by surprise,” Gary says. He stresses that residents across the state should know if they live in a flood plain and heed local officials and the media.
“Respect Mother Nature,” meteorologist Vernon Turner adds. “Have a plan, know your plan, and be able to act on that plan when needed.”