Category Archives: News

How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

Winter storms can cause power outages that last for days. They can make roads and walkways extremely dangerous and also negatively affect critical community services including public transportation, childcare, and health programs. Injuries and deaths may occur from exposure, dangerous road conditions, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other winter storm conditions. Be better prepared this winter, and learn more at

For more information download the provided Winter Storm Guide.

Benefits and Costs of Freeboard

Benefits and Costs of Freeboard Flyer

One way flood risk is communicated is through maps that show base flood elevations (BFEs), or the height floodwaters would reach during a 1-percent-annual-chance flood in any given year.

Freeboard is a term used by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to describe a factor of safety usually expressed in feet above the 1-percent-annual-chance flood level. The NFIP requires the lowest floor of structures built in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) to be at or above the BFE, so a structure built with freeboard would have its lowest floor 1 foot or more above the BFE. Adding freeboard will reduce NFIP insurance premiums.


National Flood Insurance Program

Provided is a copy of the recent NFIP Premium Comparison ChartThis chart comes in handy when dealing with homeowners or local officials. It helps explain the benefits of flood insurance, elevating and freeboard as it relates to monetary savings.  The NFIP Call Center Brochure is for anyone needing assistance from the NFIP Support Center.

Courtesy of: Mark Lujan (FEMA Region VI – Sr. Region Insurance Specialist) & and John Miles (FEMA Region VI)

Meteorologist Terminology

What’s the Difference Between a Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm and Hurricane?

 Meteorologists use special terminology based on various classifications for developing tropical activity.

You’ve heard meteorologists describe these weather formations as tropical systems, tropical disturbances, tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes. What does all of this terminology really mean?

Stages of Tropical Formation:

The first official stage of a tropical classification is a tropical depression, but before this happens meteorologists refer to this potential activity using many different terms, all which mean about the same thing.

You’ll hear them throw out some of these terms: tropical system, tropical feature, tropical activity, tropical disturbance, tropical wave. These descriptions all refer to a weather formation that has potential to strengthen and organize into a substantial tropical storm, or even a hurricane.

When these descriptors are used, the storm at its current state doesn’t have strong enough sustained and organized winds or the pressure necessary to be classified as a tropical depression.

Tropical Depression

A tropical depression forms when a low pressure area is accompanied by thunderstorms that produce a circular wind flow with maximum sustained winds below 39 mph. Most tropical depressions have maximum sustained winds between 25 and 35 mph.

In the U.S., the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is responsible for issuing advisories upgrading or downgrading tropical activity.

Reconnoissance aircraft missions are sent by the NHC flying into tropical storms to gather data, like wind speeds, to aid in making these classification changes. Surface data from islands, buoys and vessels can also be used to make changes.

Tropical Storm

An upgrade into a tropical storm occurs when cyclonic circulation becomes more organized and maximum sustained winds gust consistently at or above 39 mph, and no higher than 73 mph. Tropical storm status is when the naming of the storm takes place.

Hurricane Classification

A tropical storm is then upgraded into Category 1 hurricane status as maximum sustained winds increase to between 74 mph and 95 mph.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used to rate hurricane intensity in the Atlantic Basin. A 1-5 rating system is used, with Category 1 being a less intense storm and Category 5 very intense.

Story by Carly Porter, Staff Writer

Survey on Urban Flooding

The University of Maryland and Texas A&M – Galveston is conducting a scoping study to determine the extent, consequences/magnitude, and possible mitigation measures for urban flooding in the United States. They ask that you complete the following survey, you can help them increase the number of respondents to a point where they are able to give decision makers a true picture of the urban flooding challenge.

The survey will take approximately 15 minutes of your time. It is not asking you for detailed information, but for a general assessment of the problems you, as practitioners, are encountering and the approaches you believe are most appropriate to deal with urban flooding.

They ask that you complete the survey by 16 October. There is a place in the survey where you can indicate that you would like to receive a copy of the report when it is completed.