Hurricane Preparedness

  • Jan 18, 2017
  • FloridaDisaster.org
Image Hurricane Preparedness

The most feared weather phenomenon through Florida during the summer and early fall is the tropical cyclone. Close to the tropics and surrounded on three sides by warm water, the unique location of Florida makes it particularly vulnerable to these systems as they develop and move generally westward across the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, and the relatively flat terrain can also make it susceptible to flooding.

Florida has a long history of hurricanes. Records indicate that approximately 110 hurricanes and almost 200 tropical storms have impacted the state since 1851 with many more cited in history books before records were kept.

 

DID YOU KNOW??? No other state in the country has more hurricane landfalls per year on average than does Florida. Nearly 40% of all hurricanes that strike the United States make landfall in Florida.

 

Image
Zoom
hurricane pic 1

The North Atlantic Ocean hurricane season officially begins on June 1st and continues through November 30th. However, tropical systems can still form outside of hurricane season as early as May and as late as December. Although the number of tropical storms and hurricanes typically peaks during August and September, it is important to remember that Florida can be impacted by tropical weather systems any time during the six month long season. Residents and visitors need to plan ahead and remain ready for possible hurricane impacts.

 

The 2012 hurricane season was record-breaking in several ways. 2012 recorded 19 named storms, putting it in third place (tied with 1887, 1995, 2010 and 2011) for most named storms in a season. The 2012 hurricane season also claims third place for number of days during the season in which a named storm was active in the Atlantic Basin (99.5 days). Two tropical storms (Alberton and Beryl) formed before the official start of hurricane season, an occurrence not seen since 1908. When Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall near Jacksonville Beach on May 28, it broke the record for strongest tropical storm to make a US landfall before the start of hurricane season. When Tropical Storm Debby was named on June 24, it became the earliest "D" storm in history., beating 2005's Dennis by 2 weeks. Hurricane Sandy was the largest know Atlantic hurricane by gale diameter on record, with tropical storm-force winds extending nearly 500 miles from the center (from South Carolina to Maine)! Four of the 19 named storms made landfall in the United States (Tropical Storm Beryl, TS Debby, Hurricane Isaac and Post-Tropical Hurricane Sandy). For the seventh year in a row, Florida escaped major impacts from hurricanes. Nevertheless, Florida received impacts from Beryl, Debby, Isaac and Sandy.

 

 

Image
Zoom
destruction

Despite the inactivity in the state over the past few years, we know that it only takes one storm to affect our state for long lasting impacts to be felt. The 1992 Hurricane Season serves as a reminder of this fact, as six tropical cyclones formed (a normal year has eleven), but one storm intensified into a major hurricane (Andrew) and produced widespread devastation as it made landfall near Miami and traveled across the South Florida Peninsula. This is why residents and visitors need to always be prepared for hurricanes, even if below normal hurricane activity is forecast.  

 

Image
Zoom
Hurricane Andrew

DID YOU KNOW??? Hurricane Andrew remains one of only three hurricanes to make landfall at Category 5 intensity in the United States (in addition to the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane which crossed the Florida Keys and Hurricane Camille which struck Mississippi in 1969).

 

Only a small percentage of the numerous low pressure systems that move across the warm Atlantic waters during the summer are able to take advantage of favorable conditions to become more organized. A tropical storm will have sustained winds of 39-73 mph. When a storm’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is considered a hurricane, and when sustained wind speeds reach 111 mph, it is considered a major hurricane. Meteorologists use the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to rate the strength of a hurricane.

 

Image
Zoom
scale

When a tropical system approaches the state, The National Hurricane Center will issue watches and warnings. Do you know the difference between a watch and warning? Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the time dangerous winds are possible within the specified area. Warnings are issued 36 hours prior to the time when damaging winds are expected. A watch should trigger your family’s disaster plan, and protective measures should be initiated. Once a warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.

 

DID YOU KNOW??? In the last 150 years, all of Florida’s counties have been impacted by at least one hurricane.


Your main protection against hurricanes is to be prepared and have a plan. Hurricane force winds can easily destroy poorly constructed buildings and mobile homes. A hurricane plan doesn’t have to be anything  extremely  complicated,  but  should  at  least  consist  of  the  following  two  things. First, determine whether you live in an evacuation zone. This information can be obtained from your local emergency management office. If you live in an evacuation zone, know when and where you will be going to pass the storm. Have a list of emergency telephone numbers handy. Second, stock up on non-perishable supplies, batteries for electronic devices such as your NOAA Weather Radio, and have a disaster supply kit ready with enough provisions to last 3 to 5 days (Manatee County recommends 7 days). To minimize wind damage, assess your property to ensure that landscaping and tress do not become a wind hazard.

 

More information about hurricanes and what you can do to protect yourself and others can be found at www.nhc.noaa.gov or www.FloridaDisaster.org.