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Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Hurricane Evacuation Needs 36 Hours, 24 Given


By Jack Fichter

MIAMI, Fla. — With the county dependent on 36 hours advance notice, in order to evacuate all residents and visitors in summer, how realistic is to believe the National Hurricane Center can deliver a warning for Cape May County in that time frame with the unpredictability of hurricanes?
Dennis Feltgen, public affairs officer and a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center, told the Herald 24 hours warning is the standard.
He said the situation in Cape May County is similar to populated areas along the Gulf Coast that need a long time to evacuate such as Tampa Bay area in Florida and Houston, Texas.
Feltgen said typically hurricane warnings are issued 24 hours in advance of landfall but the National Hurricane Center is considering issuing warnings 36 hours in advance beginning in 2010 with hurricane watches issued 48 hours in advance.
He said the hurricane center was seeking feedback from emergency managers on changing the warning time to 36 hours. Feltgen said the center has reached a level of accuracy where they would be able to provide such information.
“Typically when storms get up to the latitude of New Jersey, they are moving faster because they are caught up in a pretty good wind flow from the south,” he said. “That’s not always the rule, they can be slow movers.”
According to figures from the National Hurricane Center, Cape May gets a Category 1 hurricane once every 35 years.
Category 2 hurricanes occur on average once every 100 years while a Category 3 happens once every 190 years.
The hurricane center figures indicate a Category 4 hurricane once every 470 years and a Category 5 storm once every 500 years.
“The problem you have up there is it has been so long since you’ve had a hurricane, let alone a major hurricane, so you are several generations removed from people who have experienced it,” said Feltgen.
According to the Web site:, an 1821 storm was the last major hurricane to make a direct landfall in this state. The Category 4 hurricane hit Cape May on September 3, 1821. It was believed to have had winds of 135 mph.
Hurricane force winds extended as far west as Philadelphia while New Jersey residents experienced wind gusts of up to 200 mph.
It followed the path of today’s Garden State Parkway to New York City.
The Hurricane of 1821 was born off the African coast, as are most others.
According to the Web site: Hurricane-Disasters-Live: The storm was first seen on Sept. 1 when it struck Guadeloupe. It notes as the hurricane turned to the north after passing the Bahamas, it was very intense, likely a Category 4 and possibly even a Category 5. said ships near Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos Islands noted the hurricane.
It was a very fast moving storm. On Sept. 3, 1821 at dawn, it was located off Cape Haterras, N.C.
By mid-afternoon, it was in Delaware Bay. By 7:30 p.m. it was pounding New York City.

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