Hurricane or Tropical Storm Preparedness and Procedures
Due to the Hawaiian Islands’ location in the Pacific Ocean, hurricanes and tropical storms commonly pass very close to Laie and the North Shore. Hurricanes draw strength from the warm ocean water south of the islands and travel northward before weakening.
Hurricane season in the Central Pacific Ocean is from June 1 to November 30, though hurricanes can occur at any time of the year. Because of this, it is vital that students, university ohana, and community members prepare in advance.
During a Hurricane
Winds ranging from 64 to 137 knots (74-150 mph) can propel debris at dangerously high speeds, posing a risk to life and property. Sheltering indoors and away from glass windows is recommended.
Strong winds can uproot power lines, cutting off electricity to the community. This could take days or weeks to be fixed, depending on the severity of damages elsewhere on the island. Most of the sewage in Laie is electrically pumped, so refrain from using toilets unless necessary.
Very large ocean waves often accompany a storm. These have been known to travel up to 800 meters inland. Those living on ground floors in low-lying areas may need to evacuate to higher floors.
Hurricanes bring heavy rainfall, which could overwhelm local drainage fields and mix with storm surge to flood the town. Areas situated on low ground and close to drainage are most susceptible.
Preparing for the Storm
The National Weather Service (NWS) will issue advisories, watches, and warnings when a storm appears to be approaching landfall in Hawaii. Campus Safety closely monitors NWS publications and keeps informed about approaching hurricanes. You can find live updates here.
Advisories indicate that a storm is possible within 72 hours. When an advisory is issued, you should make sure that your emergency kit is up to date with supplies. Read more about a list of things to place in an emergency kit.
Watches indicate potential storm landfall within 48 hours. You should take this time to prepare your dwelling for the storm by placing important documents and valuables in safe areas. There are opportunities to volunteer to prepare sandbags and other areas as needed.
Warnings indicate that a storm is less than 36 hours away. In addition to finishing any preparations, you should heed any evacuation orders issued by the school or the state. If no evacuation order is placed, you should prepare to shelter in place to wait out the storm. Stay away from windows and move to a higher floor if storm surge persists.
Prepare your homes for the hurricane and shelter in place. Listen to alerts issued on the radio and for areas where shelters are open just in case you and your family need to evacuate. Shelters are organized by HI-EMA via Hawaii American Red Cross.
Students Residing in the Hales (Single Student Housing)
Be prepared to evacuate to higher floors should storm surge reach the campus. Residential Life will advise students on when to move to upper levels.
Students in TVA
Students living in TVA should communicate with upstairs neighbors prior to the storm’s arrival to coordinate temporary shelter arrangements.
Students Residing Off-Campus
The communities closest to the ocean are at the highest risk for storm surge. Off-campus residents should coordinate with their landlords to place sandbags and reinforce windows. They may also have the option to evacuate to emergency shelters organized by Hawaii EMA.
At the direction and discretion of BYU–Hawaii President’s Council (PC), the school may open up a shelter. Food is not provided at any of the shelters during an evacuation phase. You will need to have an emergency kit prepared.
For more information about hurricanes in Hawaii and what you can do to prepare, visit the HI-EMA website.