“Never, no matter what may be the progress of science, will honest scientific men who have regard for their reputations venture to predict the weather.”
It is hard to believe, as FEMA and our stakeholders are still very much in active recovery mode from the 2017 hurricane season, that the official start to the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1st. Forecasts from leading researchers and meteorologists, including those at Colorado State University, are predicting a busy 2018 hurricane season with a 60% probability for a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coast. Researchers also predict a slightly above average season in terms of number of hurricanes formed and intensity of the storms.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an above average hurricane season would equal over 11 named storms. NOAA continues to monitor weather patterns and will make formal forecasts closer to the start of June when the season officially begins.
Colorado State University added that higher than average ocean waters in the western tropical Atlantic combined with cooler than average ocean temperatures in the north and western Atlantic will contribute to an active upcoming hurricane season.
FEMA offers a number of resources to help to prepare for the upcoming Hurricane season. Visit FEMA.gov or download the FEMA app from iTunes or Google Play today. Before the 2017 Hurricane Season, Acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton Jr. (now FEMA Region IX Administrator) said, “Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives. Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared and will make all the difference: Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens; Know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts, and finally – listen to local authorities as a storm approaches.”
- Determine your Risk
- Develop an Evacuation Plan
- Assemble Disaster Supplies
- Get an Insurance Checkup
- Strengthen Your Home
- Help Your Neighbor
- Complete a Written Plan
(Sources: FEMA.gov, NOAA.gov, Colorado State University Extended Range Forecast of 2018 Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity, http://www.bsc.es/seasonalhurricanepredictions)
Tropical Storm Jose has been meandering around the Atlantic and the New York area is already experiencing rough surf from the system. As you can see from the graphic, the “cone of uncertainty” encompasses our region on Rosh Hashanah. Jose could both strengthen and weaken by then and affect portions of the east coast of the United States from North Carolina northward to New England. It is too soon to determine what or where. NYCEM will continue to monitor the status and progress of TS Jose and you should pay close attention to weather forecasts over the coming days.
What should you do until then?
- Plan. September is National Preparedness Month, so you should have an emergency plan covering four basic areas: How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings? What is my shelter plan? What is my evacuation route? What is my family/household communication plan?
- Click to these links for apps (Apple, Android) to help you make your plan.
- Check out the New York City Emergency Management pocket guides outlining the very basic steps all New Yorkers should take to prepare for an emergency available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, Urdu, Yiddish
- Know your zone. New York City refined its Evacuation Zones after Sandy. Take a look at the NYC Hurricane Zone Finder and for Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.
- Get notified. Sign up for emergency alerts from NYC, Nassau, Suffolk and/or Westchester (temporarily unavailable).
- Stock up. As we know from Texas and Florida, storms bring power outages and limited mobility. Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Halacha. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. The Rabbinical Council of America distributed this document, dealing with questions arising from severe weather on Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Please distribute on blogs and synagogue/community listserves.
NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) is now advising New Yorkers to prepare for ongoing sustained winds upwards of 30mph with wind gusts in excess of 70mph. Most Succoth, especially in open areas or experiencing sustained gusts, are not built for such conditions.
The Rabbinical Council of America is distributing this document, developed by Rabbi Kenneth Brander with profound thanks to Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita for his guidance. The relevant portion of the document follows:
Sukkot, Shemeni Atzeret & Simchat HaTorah
- If the weather forecast is for winds of over 40 mph there is a serious danger that the sukkah will become flying debris which can create dangerous projectiles and should be dismantled before Shabbat/Yom Tov.
- If there is a concern of schach flying around (in winds that are less than 40 mph winds) then the schach can be tied down even with plastic cable ties.
- If schach needs to be replaced or tied down on the sukkah on Shabbat or Yom Tov in can be done by a Gentile.
- If there is concern about going to shul on Simchat Torah morning – Vezot ha’Berakha can be read on the night of Simchat Torah in five aliyot. Alternatively should the storm pass by Simchat Torah afternoon then hakafot and torah reading can be read at an early mincha on Simchat Torah.
Of course, individuals and organizations should consult with their appropriate halachic authorities. Some additional tips:
- Secure your Sukkah to fixed objects such as posts or fencing. Unsecured bamboo mats can become airborne, leading to injuries and property damage. Unsecured walls (either canvas or plywood) are essentially sails and could collapse and/or blow away. This is already happening in the Washington, DC area.
- Balconies. Succoth built on balconies on higher floors are subject to higher winds.
- There is a likelihood of blackouts during the storm. See the RCA document here for additional guidance. The source document with citations can be found here.
- Drying. If you do take down and secure your Sukkah over the next few days, the materials and skhakh are likely to be wet. To avoid mold, be sure to thoroughly dry everything after Sukkoth before you store it. (HT Dori Zofan).
Thanks to NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito and Assistant Commissioner Ira Tannenbaum for their ongoing leadership and concern. Here is the NYCEM guidance:
The National Weather Service forecast for the next several days includes wind speeds that are predicted to be between 15 and 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 mph at times. High winds can down trees and power lines, blow out windows, blow down signs, cause flying debris, and structural collapse. Individuals who have constructed a Succah for the holiday should take appropriate actions to secure the structure and roofing to prevent damage or injury from flying debris.
Assistant Commissioner, Public/Private Initiatives
New York City Emergency Management
165 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 11201
I asked my colleague, “Do you know your Protective Security Advisor (PSA)?” He replied, “What?”
DHS employs PSA’s in all 50 states and many states have multiple regions. Our experience here in NY is that our PSA’s are a wonderful resource. They are hard-working, knowledgeable and professional.
- Security surveys. Subject to time constraints you can ask your PSA to conduct security surveys and assessments of your facilities. We’ve joined our PSA’s during some of these sessions and their suggestions are both sound and pragmatic.
- Training. PSA’s have access to a wide variety of training options, e.g. active shooters, suspicious packages, severe weather. Even if you don’t know your exact need, talk to them. They can open up a variety of resources for you.
- Special events planning. Let them know if you are planning a high profile event. They can advise you on security and logistical issues.
- Outreach. Get on their radar. They will invite you to various trainings and events.
Click here for more information on Protective Security Advisors. To contact your local PSA, please contact PSCDOperations@hq.dhs.gov. To contact NY PSA’s or if you have questions or need other assistance please complete the form below.
#KnowYourZone. New York City’s Hurricane Evacuation Zones have changed. Hurricane Evacuation Zones 1 through 6 replace Zones A, B, C. Learn what Hurricane Evacuation Zone you live in by going to the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder, or by calling 311.
Click here to read the updated Ready New York: Hurricanes and New York City guide.