8 Critical Components to Add to Your Airport Hurricane Preparedness Manual

  • Jun 13, 2018

Do you have an airport hurricane preparedness manual? Your answer probably varies depending on your location. We think it’s important for facilities around the world to have plans in place for natural disasters like hurricanes. Planning is the best way to prepare your airport – from key personnel to airlines – for hurricanes and other severe weather events.

Keep reading to find out some of the necessary components to any airport hurricane preparedness manual. That way, you can have one in place this hurricane season.

1. Hurricane Definitions

The first thing to include in your airport hurricane preparedness manual is a list of hurricane definitions. When it comes to hurricane season, there are a lot of different terms that meteorologists and emergency managers use to describe different storms.

Here are some definitions you should definitely include to increase airport-wide awareness and knowledge.

Knowing the difference between a hurricane watch and a warning can have a big difference on airport operations Click To Tweet

Hurricane: a type of tropical cyclone, or low pressure system, that generally forms in the tropics and has sustained wind speeds of 74 mph or higher. Hurricanes are categorized according to the strength of their winds using the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. A Category 1 storm has the lowest wind speeds while a Category 5 hurricane has the strongest (sustained wind speeds of 156 mph!)

Tropical Depression: An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less.

Tropical Storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph.

Hurricane Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions are possible within the specified coastal area. Forecasters issue hurricane watches 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.

Tropical Storm Watch: An announcement that tropical storm conditions are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

Hurricane Warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Forecasters issue hurricane warnings 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds

Tropical Storm Warning: An announcement that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

2. Pre-Hurricane Season Duties

The next thing your airport hurricane preparedness manual should include is a pre-hurricane season checklist for all areas of operations. The best way to mitigate risks at your airport during hurricane season is to be prepared, so you should include duties for departments like:

  • Administrative Staff
  • Airport Operations Staff
  • Tenants

 

Some example duties include updating emergency contact information and hurricane supply inventories.

3. Threat of Hurricane Procedures

Your airport should also have a set list of duties for each department when there is a threat of a tropical storm of hurricane. If your airport doesn’t have one already, you should look into a weather visualization and alerting software so your administrative staff can update board members and your operations staff can quickly notify all tenants. This will also grant staff enough time to check fuel levels, notify the public, and prepare sandbags.

4. Closure Checklist

If landfall in your area in imminent, you will most likely have to close your airport. In this case, most of your staff is probably nervous and panicked about how to prepare themselves personally. This is where a checklist comes in handy. Employees can run down the checklist and ensure they cover all areas they are responsible for. Make sure your include different checklists for public outreach, security, and office preparations.

5. Post-Hurricane 

This section of your manual should outline what staff should do once a hurricane has moved out of your area. You should conduct an assessment of your airport and record any damage at your facilities.

You should also update tenants on the airport’s status and an estimated time in which you’ll open back up. Sometimes it helps to consult meteorologists to ensure that other severe weather isn’t already on the way. Oftentimes, even small rainstorms can exasperate hurricane damage, further delaying your airport.

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We also recommend starting cleanup and having a “post hurricane checklist” for all staff to check.

6. A Supply List

Any airport hurricane preparedness manual should include a list of all necessary supplies. You should outline what items you need and the quantity required as well. This will help your during pre-hurricane season planning and replenishing during an active season. We recommend including items like tarps, cots and mats for essential personnel who might have to spend the night during a hurricane event, and cleanup equipment like wet/dry vacuums and hack saws.

7. Contact Information for Personnel and Agencies

This manual should be your airport-wide go-to when it comes to hurricanes. That means you should include contact information for your airport executives, the control tower, local police and fire departments, the Federal Aviation Administration, and nearby medical facilities. Do some thinking to determine what other agencies to include. These will vary based on your location and your specific hurricane risks.

8. A Map

It’s also a good idea to include a map of your airport facilities. Here is where you can mark any hazardous areas like flood areas or areas where flammable equipment is kept. We also recommend defining and mapping out your response gate. This is where emergency responders can access your airport in case of a power outage or more severe hurricane-related emergency.

The best way to prepare for any natural disaster or severe weather event is with proper planning. If you have a manual that has specific instructions for each functional group of your airport, you are ready to withstand any storm. If you have any other key areas, you think other airport should include in their manual, please share them in the comments below or on social media.


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