Make your own free website on
Hurricane Survival Manual: Group III/Texas Wing
Civil Air Patrol

Table of Contents/ Page 1


Part 2 - A Glossary of Common Terms
Go to Table of Contents/ Page 2:


Tropical Storms are a major hazzard that South Texas and the Gulf Coast must deal with as a part of nature. Since everyone talks about the weather and never does anything about it, we shall talk about it. Nature's fury is seen on its most grand scale in the tropical storm system.

With a force far greater that our largest weapon of mass destruction, the hydrogen bomb, a hurricane brings disaster and death to coastal cities as well as advanced flooding to inland areas, as seen in the 1998 Del Rio, Texas , courtesy of Tropical Storm Charlie. It is important to be aware of several key theories and catergories that relate to tropical storms.


A Hurricane begins its life as a clump of scattered thunder showers over a body of water. Often times a tropical system will find its start of the coast of Western Africa and trek its way to the warm waters of the Carribean sea.

The earliest incarnation of a Tropical Storm is the Tropical Wave. This band of showers and powerful wind, occurs in the central temperate zone that is refered to as the Tropics. While a Tropical wave is a minimal storm when compared to a Hurricane, it can plague coastal areas as well as boaters and sailors of even the toughest metal.

The Tropical Wave eventually, if remaining over warm open water, becomes what is called a Tropical Depression (TD). It is usually at this stage that a special aircraft, a Hurricane Hunter Aircraft , is sent to investagate and to collect reconnaissance data . At this time winds reach a speeds of nearly 40 mph and conditions present theselves for further developments. A landfalling Tropical Depression can bring damage to coastal areas and extreme flash flooding to inland areas. While destruction is described by most as "minimal", the logistical and economical effects can be great. The following chart, an amendment to the soon to be discussed Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale, shows the nature of the lesser storms.

      Category               Pressure        Winds      Surge   
                               mb        knts    mph      ft    
      Depression       TD      -----     < 34    < 39   -----  
      Tropical Storm   TS      -----    34- 63  39- 73  -----  

Suggestion by: C/Capt Scott Zarbo South Ft.Worth Composite Squadron

When getting to know an enemy it is important to know just how much power this enemy can muster and, as good measure, determine a scale from which one could plot a course of action. A Hurricane is by definition a force of nature, and as such is neither good nor evil. Never-the-less, the Hurricane is the Civil Air Patrol's most bitter combatants. Weather persons have devised this system for which a Hurricane can be classed and delt with.


The Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale is used by the National Weather Service to give public safety officials an assessment of the potential wind and storm surge damage from a hurricane. Scale numbers are available to public safety officials when a hurricane is within 72 hours of landfall. Scale assessments are revised regularly as new observations are made. Public safety organizations are kept informed of new estimates of the hurricane's disaster potential.

Scale numbers range from 1 to 5. Category No. 1 begins with hurricanes in which the maximum sustained winds are at least 74 miles per hour, while Category No. 5 applies to hurricanes with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph or more.

The scale was developed by Herbert Saffir, Dade County Florida, Consulting Engineer, and Dr. Robert H. Simpson, a former National Hurricane Center Director. Scale assessment categories are as follows:

Category No. 1 - Winds of 74 to 95 mph. Damage primarily to shrub and tree foliage, and unanchored mobile homes. No major damage to other structures. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Low-lying coastal roads inundated, minor pier damage, some small craft in exposed anchorage torn from moorings.

Category No. 2 - Winds of 96 to 110 mph. Considerable damage to shrub and tree foliage; some trees blown down. Major damage to exposed mobile homes. Extensive damage to poorly constructed signs. Some damage to roofing materials of buildings; some window and door damage. No major damage to buildings. Coastal roads and low-lying inland escape routes cut by rising water two to four hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Considerable damage to piers. Marinas flooded. Small craft in unprotected anchorages torn from moorings.

Category No. 3 - Winds of 111 to 130 mph. Foliage torn from trees; large trees blown down. Practically all poorly constructed signs blown down. Some damage to roofing materials of buildings; some window and door damage. Some structural damage to small buildings. Mobile homes destroyed. Serious flooding at coast and many smaller structures near coast destroyed; large structures near coast damaged by battering waves and floating debris. Low-lying inland escape routes cut by rising water three to 5 hours before hurricane center arrives.

Category No. 4 - Winds of 131 to 155 mph. Shrubs and trees blown down; all signs down. Extensive damage to roofing materials, windows, and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many small residences. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of structures near shore due to flooding and battering by waves and floating debris. Low lying inland escape routes cut by rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives. Major beach erosion.

Category No. 5 - Winds greater than 155 mph. Shrubs and trees blown down; considerable damage to roofs of buildings; all signs down. Very severe damage to windows and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many residence and industrial buildings. Extensive shattering of glass in windows and doors. Some complete building failures. Small buildings overturned or blown away. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Storm surge greater than 18 feet above normal tide. Low-lying inland escape routes cut by rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives.

Dr. Neil Frank, former National Hurricane Center Director, has adapted atmospheric pressure ranges to the Saffir/Simpson Scale. These pressure ranges, along with a numerical breakdown of wind ranges are listed in a chart.



1 >=980 >=28.94 74-95 Minimal
2 965-979 28.5-28.91 96-110 Moderate
3 945-964 27.91-28.47 111-130 Extensive
4 920-944 27.17-27.88 131-155 Extreme
5 < 920 <27.17 155+ Catastrophic

PART 2: A Glossary of Common Terms

Normally, a glossary comes at the end of a publication, however, the importance of a clear use of the language of Tropical Storm Systems side-steps tradition. Let it be known that there exists a large amount of jargon in reference to the Hurricane. Listed here are a few key terms that are helpful when looking at hurricanes.

CLOSEST POINT OF APPROACH (CPA) Point where hurricane eye makes closest contact to shore without actually making landfall.

COASTAL FLOOD WARNING A warning that significant wind-forced flooding is to be expected along low-lying coastal areas if weather patterns develop as forecast.

COASTAL FLOOD WATCH An alert that significant wind-forced flooding is to be expected along low-lying coastal areas if weather patterns develop as forecast.

COUNTY DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT Local government organization created in accordance with the provision of Florida Statutes 252.31-252.60 to discharge emergency management responsibilities and functions of the County.

COUNTY EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER (EOC) The county facility that serves as a central location for the coordination andcontrol of all emergency preparedness and response activities.

EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM (EBS) A system designed to permit government officials to issue up-to-date and continuous emergency information and instructions to the public in case of a threatened or actual emergency.

EMERGENCY PUBLIC INFORMATION Information which is disseminated primarily, but not unconditionally, at the actual time of an emergency; and in addition to providing information as such, frequently directs actions, instructions, and transmits direct orders.

EMERGENCY PUBLIC SHELTER Generally a public school or other such structure designated by County officials as a place of refuge.

EVACUATION TIME The lead time that a populated coastal jurisdiction must have to safely relocate all residents of vulnerable areas from an approaching hurricane. This time can also be perceived as the necessary amount of time between the issuance of the local official evacuation order and the arrival of sustained gale force winds (40 mph) and/or flooding.

EXTENT OF EVACUATION The identification of vulnerable people who must evacuate as a result of various hurricane scenarios, based on estimated inundation areas and/or dwelling units susceptible to hurricane force winds.

FLOOD WARNING Indicates the expected severity of flooding (minor, moderate, or major), as well as where and when the flooding will begin.

FORWARD SPEED (HURRICANE) The rate of movement (propagation) of the hurricane eye in miles per hour or knots

GALE WARNING Is defined as sustained winds within the range 39-54 miles an hour (34-47 knots) either predicted or occurring. NOTE: Gale warnings are not normally issued during tropical cyclone situations.

HURRICANE The term is used when winds reach constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more. These winds blow in a large spiral around a relatively calm center of extremely low pressure known as the eye of the hurricane. Around the rim of the eye, winds may gust to more than 200 miles per hour. The entire storm dominates the ocean surface and lower atmosphere over tens of thousands of square miles.

HURRICANE ADVISORIES Notices numbered consecutively for each storm, describing the present and forecasted position and intensity of the storm. Advisories are issued at six-hour intervals at midnight, 6:00 AM., noon, and 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Time. Bulletins provide additional information. Each message gives the name, eye position, intensity, and forecast movement of the storm.

HURRICANE EYE The relatively calm area near the center of the storm. In this area winds are light and the sky is often partly covered by clouds.

HURRICANE EYE LANDFALL The point in time when the eye, or physical center of the hurricane reaches the coastline from the hurricane's approach over water.

HURRICANE PATH OR TRACK Line of movement (propagation) of the eye through an area.

HURRICANE SEASON The portion of the year having relatively high incidence of hurricanes. In the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, it is usually regarded as the period from June 1st through November 30th.

HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM PROBABILITIES National Weather Service issues hurricane/tropical storm probabilities in public advisories to realistically assess the threat of a hurricane or tropical storm hitting your community. The probabilities are defined as the chance in percent that the center of the storm will pass within approximately 65 miles of 44 selected locations from Brownsville, Texas to Eastport, Maine. Fort Myers, (Florida) is one of the 44 selected locations.

HURRICANE WARNING An alert added to a hurricane advisory when hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours. Hurricane warnings identify coastal areas where winds of at least 74 miles per hour are expected to occur. A warning may also describe coastal areas where dangerously high water or exceptionally high waves are forecast, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

HURRICANE WATCH An alert added to a hurricane advisory covering a specified area and duration. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are a real possibility; it does not mean they are imminent. When a hurricane watch is issued, everyone in the area covered by the watch should listen for further advisories and be prepared to act quickly if hurricane warnings are issued.

NOAA WEATHER RADIO A twenty-four hour continuous broadcast of existing and forecasted weather conditions for Martin County utilizing the weather radio frequency of 162.425 MHz.

PRE-EYE LANDFALL TIME The time before actual hurricane eye landfall or CPA within which evacuation cannot be carried out because of earlier effects such as the inundation of evacuation routes from the storm surge or rainfall and the arrival of sustained gale force winds. It is composed of the time of arrival of sustained gale force winds or the time roadway inundation from storm surge/rainfall begins, whichever comes first.

PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER (PIO) An individual appointed by County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to be responsible for the formulating and coordinating of the dissemination of emergency public information with both the electronic and written media, ensuring that accurate information is being released to the general public.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING Indicates that severe thunderstorms have been sighted or indicated on radar.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH Indicates that conditions are favorable for lightning, damaging winds greater than 58 miles and hail and/or heavy rainfall.

SHELTER PERIOD The interval of time from that point of evacuation until the primary situation or event has decreased to a level which will permit people to leave designated emergency public shelters. This time may vary from several hours to a couple of days depending upon the degree of the severity of the hurricane event.

SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) A computerized model which is able to estimate the overland tidal surge heights and winds that result from hypothetical hurricanes with selected characteristics in pressure, size, forward speed, track and winds. The resultant tidal surge action is then applied to a specific locale's shoreline configuration, while also incorporating the unique bay and river configurations, water depths, bridges, roads, and other physical features. The model estimates open coastline heights as well as surge heights over land, thus predicting the degree of propagation or run-up of the surge into inland areas.

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY A warning of winds from 20 to 33 knots inclusive or for sea conditions either forecasted or occurring which are considered potentially hazardous to small boats in coastal waters.

SPECIAL MARINE WARNING A warning for hazardous weather conditions, usually of short duration, not adequately covered by existing marine warnings. Such weather conditions include sustained winds or gusts of 35 knots or more with a duration of 2 hours or less.

SQUALL A sudden increase of wind speed by at least 18 miles per hour (16 knots) and rising to 25 miles per hour (22 knots) or more and lasting for at least one minute.

STORM SURGE The high and forceful dome of wind-driven waters sweeping along the coastline near where the eye makes landfall or passes close to the coast.



It is important to know that such a storm can happen
and, almost more importantly, how to deal with it calmly.

A hurricane need not create the fear some people associate with the impending storm. Preparation before the hurricane season and before storms arrive are the key to seeing a hurricane through SAFELY. Remember - a hurricane consists of two factors, WIND AND WATER. You can reduce damage by being prepared. Residents who properly prepare themselves and their homes reduce their discomfort and damage from a hurricane.

Three groups of residents should consider evacuation a must if a hurricane threatens to strike our county:

  1. Residents of the off-shore islands and barrier islands.
  2. Residents of boats, mobile homes, and recreational vehicles, even when threatened by a minimal hurricane.
  3. Residents along all rivers and those extremely low lying flood prone areas whose homes, even if well constructed, offer little protection against storm surge or rainfall flooding.


Here is a list of some of the things that you can do before the
Hurricane Season (June 1 to November 30) officially starts.
  • Restock your supply of boards for shutters, tools, lanterns, matches, batteries, flashlights, and nonperishable foods. Make sure you have a portable, battery-operated radio in good working condition.
  • Make sure your house is in good condition. If repairs are needed, do them as soon as possible.
  • Check soundness of roofs
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Remove dead branches from trees and trim shrubs.
  • Acquire storm shutters or boards to protect glass windows and doorways
  • Know the first floor elevation (above Mean Sea Level) of your home or place of business.
  • If you live in a mobile home, recreational vehicle, boat or on a barrier island, pre-arrange for safe refuge. Do not plan to remain in your home during the hurricane.
  • Review your property insurance coverage with your insurance agent. Make sure you have enough insurance to fully replace your home and its contents.
  • Public transportation is very limited. If you have no transportation, it is strongly recommended that you make arrangements with a relative, close friend, neighbor, or through your civic association for transportation help. Have them pick you and your family up and take you to the nearest designated emergency public shelter or another safe refuge.
  • Make necessary arrangements for the safety of your pets and your boat.
  • Remember each individual is responsible for preparing for their special needs in response to a hurricane threat. If the emergency warrants evacuation because of life threatening hazards, County officials may advise, or order evacuation of vulnerable areas. Your cooperation in preparedness efforts is essential to you and your neighbors' protection. Please be prepared.


Back to Group III/ Texas Wing Page Weather Page:
Next Page:

Some information for this page was gathered from the MARTIN COUNTY HURRICANE SURVIVAL GUIDE which is on-line courtesy of the Martin County Board of County Commissioners/Information Services Department.