Hurricane Season runs from June 1st to November 30th for the Atlantic Ocean. For North Carolina, the majority of tropical storms make landfall between August and October. In the last 25 years, Greenville has been impacted by 23 tropical storms.
Hazards associated with land-falling hurricanes include: winds exceeding 155 mph, tornadoes and waterspouts, ocean storm surge, heavy rain, inland flooding, and landslides. Here in the Greenville area, we typically experience high winds, tornadoes, heavy rainfall, and areal flooding.
These hazards often have repercussions:
ECU is designated by the National Weather Service as a StormReady University. Despite our access to the best technology available, forecasts are based on computer models that inherently contain potential for error and weather systems can change. ECU faculty, staff, and students need to become familiar with the Greenville climate and check weather forecasts frequently throughout hurricane season. The forecast and conditions can change often.
Tropical storm forecasting can be fickle; the timeline, intensity, and track of the storm determine the impact but models are no match for Mother Nature. Even slight changes in hurricane track can make a big difference regarding the impact to the Greenville area. ECU continuously monitors the weather and alerts the campus community to severe weather that may impact their safety.
The evacuation of the ECU campus is actually quite rare, but not implausible. ECU has strong, sturdy buildings and we believe it is safer for students to stay on campus than venture home, to areas of which may be closer to the coast and houses which may be less sturdy or subject to flooding. Some students are not able to evacuate, due to being an out-of-state or international student. The University provides shelter, provisions, and security for students on campus.
Pitt County is a host county for those central coastal plain counties required or encouraged to evacuate. There will be residents from eastern counties that travel to and through the Greenville area, congesting the main thoroughfares. This is another reason we do not want our students evacuating campus, potentially putting them at greater danger to be on the overcrowded roads during hazardous weather conditions.
The University has a three tiered hurricane plan, which includes preparing, responding, and recovering from impacts of a tropical storm. Those phases are briefly described below. At the start of hurricane season, all divisions and departments are encouraged to take part in a series of preparations. Pre-season preparing involves reviewing plans, policies, and procedures as well as stocking up on supplies for a tropical storm event.
As early as 3 to 5 days out, ECU Administration begins to convene to discuss the forecasts, any potential impacts to campus, and the possibility of class cancellation or campus closure. Plans, policies, and procedures are again reviewed and updated as necessary. ECU Facilities Services works to ensure supplies are stocked and equipment is readily available for phase two. Campus Living prepares for utility outage and will ensure food and water supplies are stocked. Campus Living will also inform residents of hurricane procedures. Environmental Health &Campus Safety coordinates with the National Weather Service and local City / County representatives. Outlying centers and institutions are contacted to begin early preparations.
The ECU community will be continuously updated about the impending storm, any changes to operations, and safety precautions to take.
When the tropical system is 12 to 24 hours from impacting ECU, additional and more stringent preparations are made. ECU Administration continues to convene to discuss the forecasts, imminent impacts to campus, and the possibility of change in operating status or evacuation. ECU Facilities Services and Environmental Health &Campus Safety secure buildings and construction areas, sandbags and barricades vulnerable areas on campus, and tests emergency resources / equipment. Campus Living will continue to communicate with on- and off-campus residents regarding hurricane safety guidelines. Coordination is maintained with the National Weather Service and local representatives. If a change in operating status is deemed necessary, mandatory and essential personnel are put on standby for response.
As winds reach 30 mph, an orderly secession of activities will begin. Before winds reach 40 mph, all outdoor emergency preparation activities shall begin shutdown. Only emergency response and ECU Police patrols will be allowed to operate at this point. At 65 mph, all outdoor activities shall be shut down; at which point ECU Police, and other student support, will be stationed at residence halls to assist as needed. These same parameters will be utilized to determine the resumption of response activities.
The ECU community will be periodically contacted with updates about the impending storm, any changes to operations, and safety precautions to take.
As the storm passes and winds dissipate below 40 mph, emergency response and recovery activities begin. Damage reports are taken, assessed, and priorities are assigned for clean-up and repairs. Utility services, information technology, and safe drinking water are ensured, and perimeters are set-up around unsafe areas to ensure security. Each division and department works together to ensure faculty, staff, and students are safe and that normal operations can continue as soon as possible. Residence halls and dining halls are a top priority since their operations are required to support our residents.
The ECU community will be updated about any changes to operations and safety precautions to take.
Once the University has decided to close, cancel or delay classes, the notification is sent through ECU Alert. This information can be found on the University home page, emergency hotline, campus email, and SMS text messages (users will only receive text if subscribed).
Faculty, staff, and students should know the hazards associated with tropical storms, in order to make a plan of action. Below are some tips to prepare for hurricane season.