Some things to consider when making hurricane evacuation plans

File photo of traffic in Central Florida before the arrival of Hurricane Ian. Thinking through your evacuation plan is important before hurricane season arrives. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This week is Hurricane Preparedness Week, which is a great time to beginning thinking about the upcoming hurricane season.

One of the biggest topics if you live along the coast or in low lying areas is preparing an evacuation plan.

But there are some key things to think about before evacuating.

10s of miles not 100s of miles

Evacuations don’t need to be into the Carolinas or Tennessee.

The goal of an evacuation is to move people out of life-threatening situations. That does not mean an entire region is seeing the same threats.

The horror stories of eight-hour car rides to go 50 miles can be avoided by simply evacuating inland to a sturdy structure.

This much smaller travel will also help evacuees get back to their homes sooner.

Hurricanes can strengthen quickly

While meteorologists have become fairly accurate in the track of hurricanes, intensity remains a challenge.

File photo of Hurricane Ian rapidly intensifying off the Gulf coast of Florida. (NOAA via AP)

Hurricanes can quickly intensify, sometimes in a matter of hours, catching residents off guard.

This is why in an evacuation zone, it is important to get constant forecast updates from meteorologists.

Storm surge

Storm surge can flood roads well ahead of the storm

It is important to evacuate an area well before the arrival of the storm.

Storm surge can begin well ahead of the worst of a hurricane, resulting in roadways being flooded and some neighborhoods completely cut off.

At least 2 routes

With the threat of flooding in evacuation zones, it is important to have two different routes to evacuate.

Having two routes will guarantee success if completely exiting an evacuation zone.

It is also helpful to avoid significant traffic jams if a second route is available.

Heed evacuation warnings

The most important tip is to evacuate if asked by emergency managers.

An evacuation is ordered when emergency managers, in consultation with meteorologists, think that life-threatening situations are very possible.

File Photo of an evacuation in the Tampa Bay area for Hurricane Ian. (File Photo)

Leaving an evacuation area gives residents the best chance to ride out the storm successfully and with less stress like water pouring into a home, or having a medical emergency with no help available.

If a major storm impacts the area again, evacuations for parts of the region will be likely. Using these tips will give you the most stress-free evacuation possible.

About the Author:

David Heckard is The Weather Authority's Assistant Chief Meteorologist.