As Hurricane Irene barrels toward New York, here is an explanation of hurricane terms to help you figure out when things are getting really bad:
- Hurricane Warning: Issued 36 hours before hurricane conditions (sustained winds of at least 74mph) are expected within the specified area. The National Hurricane centre issued a hurricane warning at 5 p.m. today for areas north of Sandy Hook, N.J., stretching all the way to Massachusetts, including New York City, Long Island, the Long Island Sound, coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
- Hurricane Watch: We are past this point, but a hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible. This is issued 48 hours before the hurricane is expected to hit.
- Hurricane Advisory: Official information issued by hurricane warning centres that explains the watches and warnings, including details about the locations, intensity, and movement of the storm. For Hurricane Irene advisories, check here.
- Storm Surge: A “dome” of ocean water propelled by the hurricane that can destroy large buildings and coastal communities. A storm surge can hit land five hours before the hurricane, and can also happen after the hurricane moves away, as the ocean water falls back to confined spaces like the Long Island Sound. Large areas of south Queens, south Brooklyn, the lower east and west sides of Manhattan, and the coastline of Staten Island could all suffer major damage in the event of “storm surge.”
- Landfall: The moment where the hurricane hits the coast. It’s possible for the strongest hurricane winds to be experienced on land, even if the storm doesn’t make landfall.
- President’s Emergency Declaration: President Obama issued an Emergency Declaration for Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, and Suffolk counties in New York. This authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief and releases federal funding at 75%.
- State of Emergency: New York and New Jersey have declared states of emergency for Hurricane Irene. This enables the state to use its resources to help local governments, bring in outside resources, and coordinate state agencies — and the National Guard — to respond to the disaster.
Compiled from multiple sources.