Getting Ready for a Hurricane

In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan struck the Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 3. Homeowners like Jason Huffman (seen here) did all they could beforehand to prepare their homes to withstand the brunt of the storm. STEPHEN MORTON/GETTY IMAGES

There's not much that can rattle a New Yorker. Most have seen enough to know they've seen it all. So when Hurricane Irene took aim at New York City and its environs in 2011, most New Yorkers didn't bat an eye. But some did. They prepared. Allen Ortiz, from Queens built a cinderblock wall several inches high to keep water from flooding his driveway. If floodwaters poured into his basement, Ortiz was ready, too: He had not one, but two pumps at the standby [source: Fenton, Livingston and Sanderson].

In Ozone Park, Clifford Singh stocked up on flashlights and batteries. He bought extra water and food. Members of the City Island Yacht Club in the Bronx received e-mails to check their moorings and to batten down the hatches. "Sustained winds of this strength will find any weakness -- count on it," the message said [source: Fenton, Livingston and Sanderson].

Once upon a storm, the only time people knew a hurricane was going to strike was when the wind started blowing and the rain started falling. By then it was too late. Entire cities and towns were swept away.

Things began to change in the 1950s when the science of storm prediction took a radical leap forward. Thanks to aircraft that could provide accurate data on the position of a hurricane, and the development of nascent computer technology, hurricane forecasting became a lot easier. Scientists used these and other techniques to develop statistical and atmospheric models of the storms. It didn't take long for scientists to predict, with reasonable certainty, the exact track of a hurricane. People were able to get out of Dodge when the sun was still shining, saving thousands upon thousands of lives over the years [source:].

Every storm season the evening news and morning newspapers are constantly awash with stories of people trying to stick a finger in Mother Nature's eye. You see them buying sheets of plywood, shutters and an assortment of other hardware to fight back against the storm. When the going gets tough, the tough stay put. Do these people know what they're doing? Do they have some inside information that the rest of us don't? Probably not, but read on to find out how to prepare for a hurricane.