If you’re like me, you listened to the news reports broadcasting the experts’ predictions for a very active storm season this year back in early June and haven’t thought much about it since. We have had no real storm activity other than Tropical Storm Bonnie which quickly weakened to a depression and then to nothing more than an average Florida rainy afternoon.
Recently, however, I was fortunate enough to attend an event at which Max Mayfield, the well-known meterologist who served as the Director of the National Hurricane Center from 200-2007, spoke. These days, Mr. Mayfield serves as a hurricane specialist for WPLG. Those of us in attendance learned the following tidbits about our not-so- friendly visitors each June-November:
• Peak hurricane season runs from mid-August to mid-October. The fact that we have not seen much activity as of the date of this blog does not mean we are out of the woods. In fact, we aren’t even in the most active part of the hurricane season yet.
• The Atlantic waters are 1 to 1 1/2 degrees warmer than usual this year which is very similar to what occurred during 2004 and 2005 when our State was battered by several named storms.
• The ability to forecast the likelihood of a storm and its eventual path continues to improve but the ability to forecast a storm’s rapid change in intensity remains a challenge.
• The time periods for a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning have recently been extended to 48 hours and 36 hours respectively.
• Hurricane Wilma which brought such devastation to so many different parts of Florida in October of 2005 was only a Category 2 storm.
• Since Wilma, we are in better shape in terms of grocery stores, gas stations and other critical locations having backup power sources as well as hardening efforts made by FPL to their infrastructure. However, depending on a storm’s strength and the resulting damage it inflicts, structural damage might still render the aforesaid locations incapable of operating even with generators.
If you haven’t seen a board, committee or membership meeting agenda item yet this year in your community discussing hurricane preparedness, you need to find out why that is. Almost 5 years has gone by since we were last tested by a hurricane in our State; many boards have changed hands since that time so it is likely that there are some communities with leadership in place that has no experience whatsoever with storm preparation or cleanup. Boards and managers certainly have more on their preparation checklists beyond putting gas in the car and turning down the refrigerator thermostat. These folks are responsible not only for their personal preparations but for the community-wide preparations as well. For those of you who still might not have a hurricane preparedness plan in place for your community, free copies of CAN’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide for Community Associations are available online at www.canfl.com.