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HURCON II sounds like DEFCON 2, the 2nd highest level of five levels of The DEFense readiness CONdition (DEFCON); an alert state used by the United States Armed Forces.

The DEFCON system was developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and unified and specified combatant commands. It prescribes five graduated levels of readiness (or states of alert) for the U.S. military. It increases in severity from DEFCON 5 (least severe) to DEFCON 1 (most severe) to match varying military situations.

Question: Does the Kennedy Space Center have formal levels of readiness for hurricanes that match the DEFCON's 5 down to 1 escalation, or is that a bit of humor mixed with the very serious message?

NPR's Riding Out Irma On Florida's Space Coast — And Keeping On Eye On The Spacecraft is worth a quick read.


below: "NASA's Kennedy Space Center, shown on Saturday, closed ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma as a crew of 120 arrived to ride out the storm." From NPR.
Bruce Weaver/AFP/Getty Images

enter image description here

below: DEFCON levels, with 1 being the highest level of alert. From here.

enter image description here

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HURCON levels range from I to V and are properly defined by the USAF.

The KSC uses these levels as well, as outlined by the "KENNEDY SPACE CENTER AND CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION CONSOLIDATED COMPREHENSIVE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLAN (CCEMP)".

The plan establishes that both the space center and air force base are subject to very similar threats and presents a joint plan to combat them.

The CCEMP combines NASA and CCAFS requirements into a single document. [...] The CCEMP applies to all NASA and CCAFS contractor and subcontractor organizations, USAF, and NASA personnel and other Federal agencies and contractors operating within the boundaries of CCAFS and KSC.

Hurricanes are identified as a major threat to both bases in Section 4 of the Executive summary.

Section 4.D of the Plan deals with mitigation of Hurricanes (page 27). 4.D (2) reads:

The KSC Director and the 45th Space Wing Commander will jointly establish the hurricane condition (HURCON) applicable to the Spaceport and the Florida Annexes to maximum extent possible.

(Highlight mine).

HURCON is applied to the spaceport.

Patrick AFB offers a "Hurricane Survival Guide" outlining the HURCON levels as of 2018:

Hurricane Conditions (HURCONs). A tool utilized by 45th Space Wing to ensure pre-disaster information and actions are disseminated and implemented throughout the installations. These conditions provide sufficient preparation time to safeguard personnel, aircraft, equipment, and facilities. HURCONs are based upon forecast on-set of destructive winds 58 mph (50 kts) or more at a specific time. The timeframes listed below are defined in AFMAN 10-2504, Air Force Incident Management Guidance for Major Accidents and Natural Disasters, and 45th Space Wing Installation Emergency Management Plan (IEMP) 10-2. The 45th Space Wing Command or designated representative declares HURCONs as appropriate. HURCONs descend from HURCON 5 to HURCON 1.

The tables on page 4 & 5 provide further information on the conditions and activities:

HURCON levels

HURCON activities

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  • $\begingroup$ According to nasaspaceflight.com's Sep 8 article, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station recognizes a HURCON V, but I don't know if this is a reliable source. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 11 '17 at 12:12
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I know that article, but it doesn#t have any sources and the CCEMp I linked above is from 2000, so there might have been some changes. I do not have L2 access, sadly, but supposedly some material can be found there. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Sep 11 '17 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble according to Wikipedia's HURCON the level of alert escalates as the numbers descend, in analogy with DEFCON and FPCON, so I'm not sure what V would be, perhaps youtu.be/L3HQMbQAWRc ? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 11 '17 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh CCAFS has HURCOn V, but KSC has not. But I couldn't find any more information other then "For the CCAFS, HURCON V begins 96 hours (4 days) prior to the arrival of 58 mph (50 knot) sustained winds." (see the linked article). $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Sep 11 '17 at 12:20
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Just FYI, Johnson Space Center also has hurricane readiness levels. But, because no 2 NASA centers can do anything the same, they use a different system.

Level 5 - Awareness

Hurricane and tropical storm preparation is a continuing activity. There should be a heightened state of awareness before and during hurricane season.

[…]

Level 4 - Concern

JSC will initiate Level 4 activities when a storm poses a threat to JSC within 72 hours or a storm enters the Gulf of Mexico.

[…]

Level 3 - Preparation

Level 3 activities prepare JSC to be in a position to be able to close down operations in a timely and orderly manner if necessary by notifying and assembling the appropriate personnel and groups.
The Director, Center Operations (JA) will authorize Level 3 activities when there is a chance that a severe weather condition will pose a significant threat to the Center within 48 hours.

[…]

Level 2 - Center Closure

Level 2 activities consist of completing all protective measures that will place the Center in a final state of preparedness.
Upon authorization by the Center Director, the Director of Center Operations will start Level 2 Activities to the HIMT when there is a possibility that a severe weather condition will pose a significant threat to the Center within 36 hours.

[…]

Level 1 Rideout, Assessment, and Recovery (post-storm) Activities

JSC will start Level 1 activities on authorization by the Center Director when severe weather conditions poses an imminent threat to the Center within 24 hours.
Activities during the storm period will be limited to:

  • HIMT activities.
  • Essential emergency repairs only if they can be done without endangering the health and safety of assigned employees.

Activities after the storm:

  • The HIMT assessing storm damage and arranging for necessary repairs on a priority basis.
  • Recovery operations initiated by the Director, Center Operations.

I think HIMT is Hurricane Impact Management Team.

Source: JSC S&MA Hurricane Checklist

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    $\begingroup$ Well, the timetables are similar, except KSC has HURCON II at 24h not 36h, and HURCON I at 12h not 24h. HIMT at JSC seems to correspond to HMT at KSC. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Sep 11 '17 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ If the photo was pre-Harvey, this would be the accepted answer. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 12 '17 at 13:09

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