It’s almost the end of May, which means that Hurricane Season is once again upon us.
This hurricane season is predicted to be an above-average season according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Colorado State University. Predictions this year call for at least 12 named storms, with 6 to 10 storms becoming hurricanes, and at least 3 to 6 of those hurricanes to be “major” or reach Category 3 or above status. Meteorologists at Colorado State University have noted that increased hurricane activity is likely to be contributed to warmer water temperatures and the unlikelihood of an El Nino, which often leads to less hurricane activity, forming this year.
In 2012, we saw the wrath of SuperStorm Sandy, which was a mixture of a typical northeastern US snowstorm coupled with the tropical effects of Hurricane Sandy, when the two storms collided in October. The monstrous storm caused tons of damage (including the flooding of the “newer” South Ferry subway station in New York City) and cost dozens of lives. The effects of SuperStorm Sandy has made me realize that the Tampa Bay area is long overdue for landfall of a major hurricane. And speaking of Tampa, we saw two tropical systems wreak havoc on the Bay Area; Debby and Issac. Debby was known for her torrential downpours, which in-turn caused widespread flooding throughout the Bay Area, and Issac almost caused the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa to be scuttled due to safety concerns.
With that said, I know that many of us here in Florida may have what is called “Hurricane amnesia” because the state has not seen hurricanes cris-cross the state since 2004 and 2005. It is especially because of this that it is always crucial to be prepared in case a major storm, like Katrina in 2005, heads our way.
A personal reflection of Hurricane Charlie in 2004.
Back in 2004, Hurricane Charlie nearly hit Tampa Bay head on before making a last-minute jog towards Punta Gorda. It was the first time that I’ve ever had to evacuate to higher ground. In fact, the night before mandatory evacuations were imposed, I could not sleep at all, I cried and cried, worrying that my house and even my entire neighborhood, would be gone. When morning arose, I could see police officers and city workers making the rounds, armed with megaphones (also known as bullhorns) to make sure everyone heard the message to get out.
Although much of Tampa Bay was very fortunate to have been spared by Hurricane Charlie, the disaster clearly sent a message to always be prepared and have a plan.
Get prepared NOW!
Now, I don’t want to give out erroneous information regarding Hurricane preparation. So I’ve left that to the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, where they have a website dedicated to disaster preparation called Ready.Gov. I strongly encourage you to visit the site and make preparations before it is way too late.
HART & PSTA offer hurricane evacuation services during evacuation periods.
For those of you who don’t have transportation and may not have friends/relatives that live in non-evacuation zones or out of town; HART and PSTA operate special services during evacuation periods to allow those who have limited evacuation options to be transported to a county-operated shelter. You can view general information, route maps, and more via the links below.
Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Also to note, whenever there high winds (anything above 25mph, sustained), the “High Winds” indicator lights will flash as you approach the bridge. When winds exceed 40mph, sustained, the Florida Highway Patrol has the authority to close the bridge entirely in order to ensure the safety of commuters.
Be safe out there!