Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Boston, MA
NOUS41 KBOX 211154
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Taunton MA
754 AM EDT THU JUL 21 2016
...Hurricane Preparedness Week in Southern New England...
...Rules of Thumb for southern New England Hurricanes - Part 4...
The National Weather Service has declared this week as hurricane
preparedness week in southern New England. The following is the
fourth in a series of five statements.
Another rule of thumb for New England hurricanes is this, run
from the water and hide from the wind. The most significant
threat from hurricanes is flooding, either due to coastal
inundation or heavy rainfall. In both cases, it is best to
leave areas prone to flooding and seek shelter in structures
which can withstand the wind. This is also a good idea for those
in areas which may not flood themselves, but become isolated as
all access points into that area are closed.
Along a coastline, the main threat is the storm surge. The storm
surge is simply water from the ocean pushed toward shore by the
wind. Besides the intensity and speed of a tropical system, the
arrival time and slope of the ocean bottom play a large role in
determining the severity of a storm surge. A storm surge arriving
during the peak of a high tide will be different than the same
storm surge arriving during a low tide. Areas with a steep
coastline will not experience as much storm surge as areas with a
more shallow coast.
When the normal tide cycle is considered along with the storm
surge, it is called the storm tide. Storm tides in excess of 15
feet are possible along the southern New England coast. Storm
tides also pose a threat to marine interests within confined
In the case of Buzzards Bay Massachusetts, a storm tide
approaching 28 feet is possible in a category 3 hurricane, due
to the narrowing and shallowing of the bay heading into the
Cape Cod Canal.
Neither the storm surge nor storm tide account for the large,
breaking waves on top of the water. The impact from these waves
can also be substantial. For areas at elevations 10 feet or less
above sea level, the threat from storm tides should not be
The threat from storm tide is two-fold. First, water is heavy,
weighing nearly 1700 pounds per cubic yard. The force generated
by large amounts of water moving onshore rapidly can be
devastating and persistent, sometimes lasting for hours. Unless
a coastal structure has been specifically designed to withstand
this force, it is likely to become structurally unsound. Once a
structure is compromised, its value as a shelter is severely
This leads to the second threat from the storm tide, isolation.
The storm tide can arrive several hours ahead of the tropical
cyclone eye, potentially resulting in the closure of evacuation
routes for an area. Even if the decision to leave is made, it
may no longer be possible to do so. Do not wait to leave if
asked to evacuate.
The same can be said for heavy rainfall farther inland, as
rivers, streams and creeks respond quickly. Tropical systems in
southern New England typically can produce 6-8 inches of rain in
a 24 hour period, and sometimes much more. For example,
Tropical Storm Diane on 18 August 1955 produced 18.15 inches of
rainfall in Westfield Massachusetts, with almost 20 inches total
by the time the storm was over.
Recently on 28 August 2011 Tropical Storm Irene brought 6 to 10
inches of rain along the east slopes of the Berkshires in
Massachusetts as well as central and western portions of Hartford
county Connecticut. In those areas stream and river flooding
ranged from significant to locally catastrophic. Several river
gages maintained by the United States Geological Survey set new
Irene brought major flooding across portions of northwest
Massachusetts from Greenfield west through Colrain, Leyden,
Buckland, Charlemont and vicinity, in particular along the
Deerfield river and its tributaries. There were numerous
evacuations and a number of homes that were flooded and others
condemned. One building in Shelburne Falls was moved a distance
downstream of its foundation. Another home was reported to have
been washed away in Leyden along the Green River. Multiple major
routes and highways were affected including Route 2, Interstate
91, Route 20, Route 5, and Route 112. Large swaths of farmland
were inundated as well.
In Hartford county Connecticut, the Pequabuck River in Bristol
overflowed its banks and flowed through Main Street.
Unfortunately, two people went canoeing into these flood waters
and their canoe was overturned. One person was rescued, another
tragically drowned. Other streams and rivers were significantly
affected in the area.
Irene was a strong reminder that impacts from tropical storms and
hurricanes are not limited to the coastline. These systems
contain copious amounts of moisture that can be transported far
inland, creating devastating flooding if the conditions are
favorable for prolonged torrential rains.
Whether from inland flooding or storm surge, the goal of
evacuation is to move from a not so safe area, to a safer area.
This does not necessarily mean evacuees must travel hundreds of
miles. In fact the shortest travel distance to a safe location is
best since it reduces traffic congestion and minimizes the chance
of encountering other problems on the roadways. Also remember it
will often take more time to reach your destination.
Staying with family or friends, or even at a hotel, outside the
area to be impacted by a tropical system is ideal. Another good
idea is to establish a common contact outside the impacted area
where family and friends can check in, and let other family and
friends know they are safe.
When evacuating, it is best to use the routes designated by
authorities. These routes are often more closely monitored, and
assistance can be provided more quickly. You can find evacuation
routes for your area by contacting local emergency management
If you have pets, definitely call ahead to your chosen
destination. Most public shelters do not accept pets. If a public
shelter does accept pets, they must be either on leash or in a
cage or box. Do not forget to bring pet food, most shelters do
not provide it.
Consider acquiring flood insurance, which is not a part of
regular homeowners insurance.
For more information concerning evacuation plans for hurricanes,
please visit the website of your states emergency management
agency or office of public safety. Other sources would be local
emergency management officials and FEMA.
For the latest updates...please visit our webpage at
You can follow us on Facebook at
You can follow us on Twitter at