2021 hurricane season to begin, forewarned is forearmed
By LOIS KINDLE
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has said the odds favor another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year. There’s a 60% chance it will be above normal, 30% chance of near normal and 10% below normal. Forecasters say they do not anticipate the historic number of tropical storms and hurricanes we had in 2020.
The season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30, so now is the time to make an emergency plan; know your evacuation zone, if applicable; ensure several means of receiving alerts and warnings; review insurance policies and important documents; strengthen your home; and gather supplies for your hurricane kit.
“Your hurricane kit’s not for sur
viving the storm,” said Dan Noah, warning coordination meteorologist for the Ruskin office of the National Weather Service. “It’s to survive the aftermath.”
This year’s prediction is for 13 to 20 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes.
Chances are the Tampa Bay area won’t be hit by a major hurricane (Category 3 to 5) this year, but you don’t want to be unprepared in the event that we do. Statistically, there’s a 1 in 200 chance of a major hurricane hitting us, but we never know when it’s our turn.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma could have been it, but it wobbled and went more to the east than expected and we were spared. We saw the wrath of a “big one” the following year, when Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base. Its 19-foot storm surge and 160 m.p.h. winds literally ravaged the area.
“If we experienced the direct hit of a major hurricane here, it would be devastating,” Noah said. “Most trees and many power lines would be downed or broken, roofs would be blown off homes, and most homes west of U.S. 41 hit by the storm surge would be washed off their foundations.”
Noah said we actually have a “much greater chance of being hit by tropical storm or Category 1 or 2 hurricane,” and any of these storms could also cause major problems along the low-lying South Shore coastline and area rivers.
That’s why it’s so important to make your plan now, including knowing your evacuation zone, where you would go and when and how to secure your home. Invest in a battery-operated weather radio, so you will stay informed even if the power goes out and have your hurricane kit ready.
For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3f7RLzN (Hillsborough County Emergency Management) or www.ready.gov.
Recommended hurricane kit supplies
• At least one gallon of water per person per day for at least seven days for drinking and bathing
• Three to seven days of nonperishable foods: canned goods, protein bars, peanut butter, etc.
• NOAA weather radio with tone alert
∙ Battery-powered radio, extra batteries
∙ Cell phone with chargers
• Two-week supply of medicines; pain relievers; updated list of family meds/dosages; doctor and pharmacy phone numbers
• Seven-day supply food, medications and extra water for pets
• Manual can opener, disposable dishes and utensils
• Personal hygiene items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, diapers/baby wipes, moist towelettes
∙ Prescription eyeglasses, contact lens solution
∙ Flashlight, extra batteries, first-aid kit
• Important documents: driver’s license, insurance policies, insurance agent’s name/phone number, etc.
∙ Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
∙ Battery-powered radio and flashlight
∙ Matches in a waterproof container
∙ Cash and coins
∙ Full tank of gas
∙ Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
NOTE: If you live in a flood zone and must evacuate to a shelter, consider a change of clothes; baby supplies; games, books and puzzles or other activities for children; cloth face coverings for everyone over age 2; and soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces.