Since we’re on a roll with the topic of weather (last week was tornadoes), let’s talk about hurricanes. Hurricane Season officially began on Saturday, June 1. It will last until the end of November. In between, who knows what will happen. We could be lucky like the past few years and have no significant hits, or we could have a major storm, or storms. This is Florida, you know, and hurricanes hitting our state are fairly common.
The so-called “experts” have declared that this will be an extremely busy hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its outlook last Thursday. NOAA forecasts a “70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher) -- of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher."
That would put 2013 well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, NOAA said.
Three climate factors that strongly control Atlantic hurricane activity are expected to combine to produce an active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season, NOAA said.
-- A continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong west African monsoon, responsible for an ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995.
-- Warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
-- El Nino is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation.
"This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes," Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said.
Sooo ... let’s be prepared:
• Enter the season prepared.
• Know all evacuation routes if you live close to the coast.
• Make sure your home meets building codes for withstanding hurricanes, and that windows have storm shutters.
• Have proper tools, supplies, and a first aid kit.
• Have plenty of batteries and flashlights
• Always have plenty of non-perishable foods on hand.
WHEN A WATCH OR WARNING IS ISSUED
• Leave low-lying areas.
• Protect windows with plywood boards, or storm shutters.
• Secure outside objects.
• Make sure you have plenty of fuel and water.
• Have several days’ supply of food and water for each family member.
• If called to evacuate, do so immediately.
BEFORE THE STORM
• Be ready to put your plan and preparation into action.
• Pay attention to local weather reports on radio, television, or the Internet.
• Have house boarded up, or have storm shutters in place.
• Have plenty of food and water.
• Make sure all your tools, supplies, and first aid kit are available for use.
• Have a secure room available.
DURING THE STORM
• Stay in Secure Room.
• Stay away from windows.
• Do not use the phone, or candles.
• Monitor Weather and Civil Service Bulletins on either regular or NOAA radio.
• Have supplies on hand.
• Remain indoors when the eye moves over your area because the storm will resume shortly.
AFTER THE STORM
• Make sure that all is definitely clear outside, and the storm has completely passed before going out.
• Report downed power lines, and stay away from them.
• Use stored water and food.
• Be patient. Things will take a while before they get back to normal.
Let’s hope Mother Nature looks favorably upon us again this year!