Prepare now

Published 10:17 am Friday, October 2, 2015

By the time the new workweek starts on Monday, things could be very complicated here in Hampton Roads.

On the other hand, everything could be very wet, but otherwise just fine.

As of Tuesday evening, meteorologists with the National Weather Service were unwilling to make a guess one way or another. Whether we will get up close and personal with Hurricane Joaquin or watch it spin east into the North Atlantic depends on a set of factors so confusing they’ve got the world’s best weather forecasting simulators standing in opposite corners and glaring across a virtual ocean of data, refusing to back down from models that predict the hurricane will strike anywhere from North Carolina to New York — or nowhere at all.

Of course, by the time you read this, that digital standoff might have been resolved, and there might finally be consensus on where Joaquin is headed and what level of damage is expected to be left in the storm’s wake.

For many people around Hampton Roads, the simple mention of the name Isabel as a storm that had much in common with the current one has brought back nightmare memories of 10 days or more without power, lines for ice from FEMA in shopping center parking lots, flooded streets and buildings and trees and power lines down in tangled knots in neighborhoods and communities from Virginia Beach to Southampton County.

To paraphrase one Facebook poster on Tuesday: Candlelight loses its charm pretty quickly when it’s your only option and the expensive food in your full refrigerator is spoiling.

There’s no amount of wishing or hoping that will steer Joaquin off whatever course that natural conditions dictate. What can change is your level of preparation. With the storm not expected to reach land — if at all — until Sunday evening, there’s time to take some precautions.

Put together an emergency kit that you can take if you must evacuate. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got plenty of fresh batteries, water, prescription medicines and non-perishable food to last you for several days. Isabel’s lesson for many in the area was that there’s never enough water on hand and batteries never last as long as they should.

Know the evacuation routes from your home and business. Make sure your family has a personal emergency plan. Make a plan for your animals. Prepare your boat for its safety and that of others. And make sure your cellphones and other important electronics are charged and ready.

For more information about how to get ready for a hurricane, whether it’s Joaquin or another one in the future, visit the National Hurricane Center at