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TS Lee
The center of circulation of Tropical Storm Lee can be seen as the WC-130J aircraft flys over Tropical Storm Lee Sept. 3. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters,” were heading back to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss, after penetrating the storm Sept. 2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Valerie Smock)
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Time is now to prepare for hurricane season

Posted 5/30/2012   Updated 5/30/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Airman 1st Class Heather Heiney
81st Training Wing Public Affairs


5/30/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- To someone from say, Colorado, the word hurricane is a legend, a myth or at least something that happens in a very distant corner of the country. However, along the Gulf Coast and at Keesler, it is a distinct reality for which people must prepare.

The official hurricane season is between June 1 and Nov. 30 of every year. Last year's hurricane season brought Tropical Storm Lee to the area along with wind, thick rain and sand sweeping across U.S. Highway 90.

The potential for a major storm exists every single year. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting 9-15 named storms, 4-8 hurricanes and 1-3 major hurricanes. At least one Category 2 (sustained winds of at least 96 miles per hour) or stronger hurricane has struck Keesler in each of the last five decades -- Camille (1969), Frederic (1979), Elena (1985), Georges (1998), Ivan (2004) and Katrina (2005).

As a hurricane draws closer, the base will declare escalating Hurricane Conditions. Each condition describes the progress of the storm and what actions are required from Keesler members:

HURCON 5 is the condition of hurricane readiness that lasts the entire season and up until 72 hours before a predicted landfall. During this time personnel must review and update Keesler Form 21, Shelter Information, by the seventh of each month at https://wwwmil.keesler.af.mil/Sentinel/. This form is an accountability tool that allows commanders to know where individuals will be during a storm.

This is also a good time to prepare family emergency plans, evacuation routes, pet sheltering plans and gather supplies. Keep in mind that supplies should last each person at least three days and should include food, water, safety items as well as items to protect your health, pets, car and home.

HURCON 4 is 72 hours prior to the forecast arrival of destructive winds of at least 50 knots (58 miles per hours). During this time personnel should pay attention to weather bulletins, follow instructions from unit commanders, secure household items, check emergency supplies, fill car tanks with gasoline and store small boats in enclosed shelters or tie them down.

HURCON 3 is 48 hours prior to the forecast arrival of destructive winds of at least 50 knots. During this time individuals should stay away from windows, keep in contact with duty section or squadron, and minimize phone calls to base.

HURCON 2 is 24 hours prior to the forecast arrival of destructive winds of at least 50 knots. During this time individuals should make final preparations including gathering drinking water, food and toiletries and storing personal papers or valuables in waterproof boxes. Everyone except mission-essential personnel and students are encouraged to evacuate at this time.

HURCON 1 is 12 hours before the forecast arrival of destructive winds of at least 50 knots. During this time mission-essential personnel and students report to their designated shelters.

After a hurricane passes, damage could be extensive so always keep safety in mind and remain in shelters until it is declared safe to leave. Individuals who evacuated should contact their units for instructions. If communication with the base isn't possible, call the Air Force Personnel Center, 1-800-435-9941.
For more information including evacuation routes, supply checklists, sheltering information and recovery information go to www.keesler.af.mil/hurricaneinfo.asp



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