Weather Hazards

During the course of the year, the Tallahassee area experiences a wide variety of weather events.  While the Florida Panhandle is best-known for being at risk from hurricanes and tropical storms, the area also experiences its share of thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, wildfires and on the rare occasion, snow.

TCC is committed to the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  When conditions warrant, TCC Emergency Management staff will be in constant communication with the appropriate state and local agencies.  Through the TCC Alerts web site, TCC will communicate important emergency information during weather-related emergencies.

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

​Throughout the Atlantic hurricane season (June 1-November 30), Tallahassee Community College monitors all tropical weather developments in the Atlantic Ocean basin.  In the event a tropical storm or hurricane threatens TCC's main campus or any of its service centers, the College will activate its Emergency Management Plan.

If the College closes campus during any tropical weather event, it may activate the red (warning) TCC Alert banner on the home page and the TCC Alert will override the College’s home page until the campus is reopened.  Once the campus is reopened, the College may activate the yellow (caution) TCC Alert banner on the home page and post information updates to the TCC Alerts web page.

Now is the Time to Prepare

TCC encourages students, faculty and staff to develop a personal evacuation plan and review it each year.  Don't wait until it's too late.  Get started today with help from The Official Hurricane Survival Guide For the Capital Area, including Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla Counties.

Classifying Tropical, Subtropical, or Post-Tropical Systems

Tropical Depression: maximum sustained surface winds of 38 mph or less.

Tropical Storm: maximum sustained surface winds between 39 mph and 73 mph.

Hurricane: maximum sustained surface winds of 74 mph or greater.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed.  This scale estimates potential property damage.  Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.  Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures.

Category One: 74-95 mph (64-82 kt) sustained winds

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category Two: 96-110 mph (83-95 kt) sustained winds

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category Three (Major): 111-129 mph (96-112 kt) sustained winds

Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category Four (Major): 130-156 mph (113-136 kt) sustained winds

Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Category Five (Major): 157 mph or higher (137 kt or higher) sustained winds

Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Watches and Warnings

A Tropical Storm Watch or Hurricane Watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

A Tropical Storm Warning or Hurricane Warning means tropical storm or hurricane conditions are expected in 36 hours or less.  All preparations should be complete.  Evacuate immediately if so ordered.

Tropical Storms Can be Just as Deadly

In most cases, the greatest threat from tropical storms is flooding.  In August 2008, Tropical Storm Fay became the first recorded storm in U.S. history to make four landfalls (all in Florida).  In its wake, Fay resulted in extensive flooding statewide, spawned 11 tornadoes, was responsible for 36 deaths and caused an estimated $560 million in damage all without ever reaching hurricane strength.

In June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison devastated southeast Texas with rainfall upwards of 40 inches.  The worst flooding occurred in Houston, where the downtown area was inundated with flooding, causing severe damage to hospitals and businesses.  The storm claimed 23 lives in Texas and 41 overall while causing $5.5 billion ($6.7 billion 2008 USD) in damage.  Allison remains the only tropical storm to have its name retired without ever having reached hurricane strength.

Storm Surge

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides.  This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast.  Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries.

Additional Resources 

Severe Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are a part of life in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend regions. Every thunderstorm has the potential to cause death, injury or damage, but only ten percent reach severe limits.  The National Weather Service considers thunderstorm to be severe when the winds are 58 mph or greater, or there is hail one inch or greater in diameter.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Be Prepared!  Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area.  Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Take Action!  Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.  Take shelter in a substantial building.  Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.  Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a large hail or damaging wind identified by an NWS forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement officer who is watching the storm.

Additional Resources

Lightning

Summer is the peak season for lightning, one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena.  In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year.  Over the past 30 years, lightning has killed, on average, 66 people each year, one more than the number of tornado-related fatalities.  In Florida, an average of ten people are killed by lightning strikes annually and 40 are seriously injured. Many survivors suffer severe lifelong disabilities.

As with most weather-related hazards, lightning injuries can be prevented by implementing a few safety tips:

  • Watch for developing thunderstorms.
  • Seek safe shelter as thunderstorms approach.  If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.  Lightning can strike as far as ten miles away from the area where it is raining.
  • Stop outdoor activities until the storm passes. A good rule of thumb: Wait 30 minutes after the last strike, before resuming outdoor activities. 
  • Avoid certain indoor activities.  Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that you put in direct contact with electricity.  Stay away from swimming pools, both indoors and outdoors, tubs, showers and other plumbing.

To learn more about lightning safety and tips you can use to reduce your risk, visit the National Weather Service's Lightning Safety website.

Additional Resources

Tornadoes

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year.

Tornado Watch: Be Prepared!  Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area.  Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching.

Tornado Warning: Take Action!  A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar and there is imminent danger to life and property.  Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and stay away from windows.  If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.

Additional Resources

Flooding

In the event TCC's main campus or any of its service centers are threatened by flooding, the College will activate its Emergency Management Plan.

If conditions warrant, TCC will active the yellow (caution) TCC ALERT banner on the College's home page.  

Turn Around Don't Drown

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard.  The main explanation is that people underestimate the force and power of water.

Many flood-related deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream.  A large number of these could be prevented, but too many people continue to drive around the warning barriers.

Whether driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, Turn Around Don't Drown.  There is no way of knowing the depth of the water or the condition of the road underneath.

Additional Resources

Droughts and Wildfires

Tallahassee Community College does not activate its Emergency Management Plan during drought and wildfires. If conditions warrant, however, updates may be posted to the College's Alerts Web site.

Drought

According to the National Drought Policy Commission Report, May 2000, "Drought is a persistent and abnormal moisture deficiency having adverse impacts on vegetation, animals and people."

Additional Resources

Wildfires

Florida is home to millions of residents who enjoy the state's beautiful scenery and warm climate. But few people realize that these qualities also create severe wildfire conditions. Each year, thousands of acres of wild land and many homes are destroyed by fires that can erupt at any time of the year from a variety of causes, including arson, lightning and debris burning. (information courtesy of Florida Disaster.org)

Additional Resources

Extreme Heat

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits.  In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition.  Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the “urban heat island effect.” (Information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Additional Resources