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Hurricane Prep Tips Amid Pandemic

Updated: Jun 23



Hurricanes are a very complicated phenomenon, and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is committed to pioneering research in order to understand and predict them better.

With the Atlantic hurricane season underway as of Monday, the student organization Canes on Canes held an online discussion on Wednesday to inform the University community about what they should do to prepare for a season that is expected to be more active than normal. 


According to Rebecca Evans, a Ph.D. student at the Rosenstiel School, the active season is because of the lack of El Nino conditions and higher sea surface temperatures. 


“In order to have a busy season we need to have a lot of warm water in the Atlantic Ocean, a humid atmosphere, and favorable winds, and all of these three things are expected to happen this year,” she said. 


This year, more than ever, Canes on Canes is urging everyone to prepare and make decisions sooner in light of the intersection of hurricane season with the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to be prepared, the group wants everyone to stay informed and know which evacuation zone they live in. Here in Miami, hurricane evacuations are based on storm surge risk and different zones will be evacuated based on the potential strength and threat of the incoming hurricane. The group noted that evacuating during this season will be more complicated than in previous ones, because there are some new aspects to consider. 


“Using shelters could be riskier than normal due to difficulties screening and isolating COVID-positive evacuees,” said Quinton Lawton, Canes on Canes team leader and Ph.D. student.


He also pointed out that it could be dangerous evacuating to another state that is at high risk for the coronavirus. 


The organization also wants people to have a disaster kit ready in the event that a storm lands. 


“Given the new circumstances, it’s important to add PPE and disinfectant to your disaster kits,” explained Lawton. “You should also have a variety of other items, including water, canned goods, prescription medicine, hygiene items, and a first-aid kit. For a list of all the items needed, visit the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for their new guidance and hurricane shelter information under COVID-19.” 


John Gulla, who is part of the University of Miami Office of Emergency Management, also took part in the discussion and explained how preparing early is the most important aspect. 


“There is a lot of planning going on already, not only at a UM-community level but even at a local level for counties, cities, and states—where they are analyzing their existing plan for protection of populations during a hurricane in a pandemic world,” he said. 


Roni Avissar, dean of the Rosenstiel School, concluded the online discussion with closing remarks where he thanked the organization for putting together the informative meeting.


“I hope people have gained knowledge after listening to the different presentations. Let’s hope that in spite of the predictions,” he said “… even if there are more hurricanes, hopefully none of the storms are going to significantly impact Miami or any land mass for that matter. We just have to stay prepared.”


Words by By Amanda M. Perez. Courtesy of University of Miami.

Visit https://hurricanes.rsmas.miami.edu/hurricane-portal/ for a centralized list of resources related to hurricanes. To watch the full discussion visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VKOYdmWM5I