By LOIS KINDLE
Published May 26, 2016
The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is less than a week away, and forecasters report it will be about average. But that’s no reason for complacency, said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dan Noah for the National Weather Service in Ruskin.
“We actually haven’t had a hurricane make landfall in Florida for 10 years,” Noah said, adding the last major hurricane to impact the state was Wilma in 2005. “We’ve never gone for this long since 1851.
“We’re overdue,” he said. “This lucky streak isn’t going to last forever. It only takes one storm to ruin your day.”
By way of example, Noah noted 1992 was a below-normal season, yet that was the year Hurricane Andrew devastated Homestead.
NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will release its forecast tomorrow, May 27. But Dr. Phil Klotzbach, of Colorado State University, a specialist in Atlantic Basin hurricane forecasting, announced his predictions in April.
According to Klotzbach, there will be a dozen named storms this year. Six will become hurricanes and two of them Category 3, 4 or 5 storms. There’s a 50 percent chance that one will hit the U.S. coastline and a 40 percent chance that one will form in the Caribbean.
So it’s important to prepare ahead, Noah said.
• First, know your evacuation zone and an evacuation route. If you live near the coastline like many South Shore residents, this is especially critical. Have a disaster plan, include your pets and make sure every family member knows the details.
“We tell people to evacuate 10 miles away, not hundreds, because you could still be in the path of the storm,” Noah said.
• Know what could be coming: storm surge, high winds, inland flooding and tornados.
“Three of four hurricane fatalities are due to water, one to freshwater and two to surge,” Noah said. “Most people don’t realize this.”
• Put together a disaster supply kit. You should have at least three days of nonperishable foods and a gallon a day of water per person. If you’re on medications, have a 30-day supply on hand. Include a flashlight with fresh batteries and some extras; a first aid kit; manual can opener; items for personal sanitation; whistle to signal for help; a battery-powered radio and NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries; and a solar charger for your cell phone.
These are the minimum supplies you will need. Depending on your family’s personal needs, others could include baby formula, diapers and powdered milk; pet food and extra water; an extra pair of eyeglasses; matches in a waterproof container; and cash, traveler’s checks and change.
• Check your insurance. Verify that you actually have the coverage you think you do. Most property insurance policies don’t cover flood losses, and you can’t get flood insurance if there’s already a storm brewing.
• Strengthen your home. Keep your trees trimmed and gutters and downspouts cleared. Bring items like bicycles, garbage cans, lawn furniture and garden tools inside because they could become dangerous flying objects.
These are only some of the things you can do to get ready when a hurricane is expected to make landfall in your area. For a complete list of safety and preparedness information, visit www.weather.gov/safety.php; www.redcross.gov/prepare/disaster/hurricane; or www.ready.gov. For evacuation zone maps and a list of Hillsborough County shelters, visit http://bit.ly/1WcssgV.